(CBS/AP) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - An Alabama man who police say intercepted a school bus, killed the driver, snatched a 6-year-old boy and retreated into a bunker at his home Wednesday, was scheduled to appear in court this morning to face charges from a shooting incident last month.
The 65-year-old retired truck driver had been scheduled to appear in court to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump. Instead, he engaged in a standoff with police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators that began Tuesday night and went into the afternoon Wednesday.
Police say the suspect boarded a stopped school bus in the small town of Midland City on Tuesday afternoon and shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 6-year-old child. The gunman then took the kindergartener away.
The suspect is believed to be holed up with the boy in an underground bunker of the sort used to take shelter from a tornado.
"As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation," said Michael Senn, a church pastor who helped comfort the traumatized children after the attack.
The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.
CBS affiliate WTVY-TV reports that contact has been made with the unidentified child and that the hostage was safe, but still captive. Police were communicating with the suspect through a plastic pipe in the bunker.
Homes nearby were evacuated early Wednesday morning after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb on his property.
Many of the suspect's neighbors reportedly know him as "the crazy man" of the neighborhood, a paranoid and menacing figure who 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 shotgun.
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