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Alabama Standoff: Hostage scene enters third day as negotiators talk to captor through pipe

Law officers at the Dale County hostage scene in Midland City, Ala. on Thursday morning, Jan. 31, 2013. A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 6-year-old hostage has kept law officers at bay since the standoff began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said. (AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh) Montgomery Advertiser

Law officers respond to a hostage scene in Midland City, Ala. on Jan. 31, 2013
AP Photo/Montgomery Advertiser, Mickey Welsh

(CBS/AP) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - The Alabama man accused of fatally shooting a school bus driver, kidnapping a kindergartner hostage and hiding in an underground bunker in an ongoing standoff is showing no signs Friday of turning himself over to police.

Hostage negotiators spoke with 65-year-old Jimmy Dykes through a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe leading to the bunger, trying to talk him into freeing the 5-year-old boy. An official said the child had been crying for his parents.

Dykes is accused of pulling the boy from a school bus Tuesday and killing the driver who tried to protect the 21 children aboard. Authorities said the gunman and the boy were holed up in a small room on his property that resembled a tornado shelter, something common to this area of the South.

"The three past days have not been easy on anybody," Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said late Thursday. He said authorities were communicating with the suspect, and their primary goal was to get the boy home safely.

"There's no reason to believe the child has been harmed," he added.

James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, said the shelter was about 4 feet underground, with about 6-by-8 feet of floor space and a PVC pipe that negotiators were speaking through.

A state legislator said the shelter has electricity, food and TV. The police chief said the captor has been sleeping and told negotiators that he spent long periods in the shelter before.

"He will have to give up sooner or later because (authorities) are not leaving," Arrington said. "It's pretty small, but he's been known to stay in there eight days."

Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said he has been briefed by law enforcement agents and has visited with the boy's parents.

"He's crying for his parents," he said. "They are holding up good. They are praying and asking all of us to pray with them."

Republican Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, said he visited the boy's mother Thursday and that she is "hanging on by a thread."

"Everybody is praying with her for the boy," he said.

Clouse said the mother told him that the boy has Asperger's syndrome, an autism-like disorder, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Police delivered medication to him through the pipe.

Dykes was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who neighbors said once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.

The chief confirmed that Dykes held anti-government views, as described by multiple neighbors: "He's against the government -- starting with Obama on down."

"He doesn't like law enforcement or the government telling him what to do," he said. "He's just a loner."

Authorities said the gunman demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old when he boarded the school bus on Tuesday. When the driver tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took the 5-year-old boy off the bus.

The bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland Jr., was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the pupils on his bus.

No motive has been discussed by investigators, but the police chief said the FBI had evidence suggesting it could be considered a hate crime. Federal authorities have not released any details about the standoff or the investigation. The mayor said he hasn't seen anything tying together Dykes' anti-government views and the allegations against him.

Complete coverage of the Alabama standoff on Crimesider

  • Crimesider Staff

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