MIDLAND CITY, Ala. For six anguished days, people in this small Alabama town asked just one question about the 5-year-old boy being held hostage in an underground bunker by a menacing, unpredictable neighbor: "Is he free yet?"
After FBI agents determined that talks with an increasingly agitated Jimmy Lee Dykes were breaking down, they stormed the closet-sized hideout Monday afternoon and freed the kindergartner. The 65-year-old armed captor was killed by law enforcement agents, authorities said.
"They did have a camera inside and they were able to observe his movements," says CBS This Morning senior correspondent John Miller. "As they watched him handling the weapon, he was getting more and more irrational."
Sheriff Wally Olson said late Monday that Dykes was armed when officers entered the bunker to rescue the child. He said the boy was threatened, but declined to elaborate.
"That's why we went inside - to save the child," he said. " ... It's a relief for us to be able to reunited a mother with her child."
Interviewed Tuesday, the boy's great uncle, Berlin Enfinger, told ABC's Good Morning America that the child was relieved to be home after his rescue a day earlier. An FBI Hostage Rescue team launched the rescue attempt after concerns mounted that Dykes was growing more unstable and presented a growing threat to the boy's safety, a U.S. official told CBS News.
"He's happy to be home, and he looks good," Enfinger said.
CBS affiliate WKRG in Mobile, Ala., reports the boy was reunited with his family just in time: On Wednesday, he celebrates his sixth birthday.
Almost a week after Dykes was accused ofon Jan. 29 and grabbing the child from among a busload of students, authorities were undertaking an extensive investigation of the standoff site some 100 acres in Midland City where Dykes had built his bunker.
An official in Midland City, citing information from law enforcement, said police had shot Dykes. The official requested anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the investigation into the case that had captured national attention.
But federal authorities were tight-lipped about specifics of how they ended the standoff.
A law enforcement source did not disclose Dykes' motives but said he had issues he had wanted to air and one of them was of an anti-government nature, according to CBS senior investigative producer Pat Milton. The source did not elaborate.
Neighbors said they heard a bang and gunshots, but the FBI wouldn't confirm that. Authorities also kept under wraps exactly how they were able to monitor Dykes and the boy in such a confined space.
"We have a big crime scene behind us to process," said Special Agent Steve Richardson of the FBI's office in Mobile. "I can't talk about sources, techniques or methods that we used. But I can tell you the success story is (the boy) is safe."
Daryle Hendry, who lives about a quarter-mile from the bunker, said he heard a boom Monday afternoon, followed by what sounded like a gunshot. Dykes had been seen with a gun, and officers concluded the boy was in imminent danger, Richardson told reporters.
It was not immediately clear how authorities determined the man had a gun.
The boy was reunited with his mother and taken to a hospital to be checked out. Officials have said he has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Richardson said he saw the child at the hospital and he was laughing, joking, eating and "doing the things you'd expect a normal 5- or 6-year-old to do."
The rescue capped a hostage drama that disrupted the lives of many in a tranquil town of 2,400 people set amid peanut farms and cotton fields some 100 miles southeast of the state capital of Montgomery.