FBI discovers bombs inside Ala. hostage bunker

(CBS News) MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - Hard to imagine what was going through the mind of Jimmy Lee Dykes. But CBS News has learned he had stored homemade bombs in his underground bunker where he held a five-year-old boy hostage. Dykes was killed outside Midland City, Alabama late Monday when an FBI assault team attacked the bunker on Dykes' property and rescued the hostage. The boy, whose first name is Ethan was taken last Tuesday after Dykes attacked a school bus in search of hostages and killed the bus driver.

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Over the course of the standoff, the FBI and Dykes developed a routine. He'd ask for supplies, and they'd leave them at the entrance of his underground bunker. The FBI's Hostage Rescue Team exploited that routine to end the standoff.

In this photo released by the FBI, agents and county negotiators used a pipe to talk with the suspect Jimmy Lee Dykes.

Sources tell CBS News when Dykes climbed the eight-foot ladder to get supplies Monday, and reached up to open the door, he was off-balance and vulnerable. Agents believed Ethan would be away from the ladder and relatively protected.

When rescue team members above Dykes saw the door open, they dropped two stun-grenades. The noise and blinding flashes disoriented him.

Within seconds, four team members entered the bunker. Officials believe he fired a shot at them but missed. They returned fire multiple times, killing Dykes and rescuing the boy.

Recent photos show Ethan with his mother. She released a statement of thanks Tuesday. It said: "I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight: my sweet little boy. I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again."

Ethan's relatives say that physically he seems fine, but they're worried about long-term emotional injuries. He was released from the hospital Tuesday just in time for his sixth birthday Wednesday.

CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, a former assistant director of the FBI, reported that bombs were found inside the bunker. As soon as the hostage rescue operators were out of there, the FBI bomb technicians went in and started a very careful search and found a number of crude homemade explosive devices.

Miller further added that authorities were already aware of these devices because they had managed to sneak a camera inside. They had an audio feed so they could see and hear what he was doing. Between the hostage negotiators talking to him, the FBI profilers in the background were getting increasingly worried as Dykes became more and more unglued that he would either booby-trap the only entrance which would make a rescue attempt extraordinarily complicated, or perhaps blow himself and his hostage up.

This photograph released by the Alabama Department of Public Safety shows Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65
Alabama Department of Public Saf

As for why Dykes did all this, Miller said that the suspect was a survivalist and anti-federal government activist. He added that Dykes probably understood a month-and-a-half after the Newtown massacre that if he wanted to get on the national stage, kidnapping two children off a school bus was his plan -- he only got one -- and holding them hostage would actually give him a platform where he could go on the media and say his piece. He actually asked for a TV reporter to speak to and that's what they were talking about for those days.

  • Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann was named CBS News Transportation correspondent in August 2011. He has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001, and is based in the Atlanta bureau.