Locals are holding prayer vigils as the hostage standoff in Midland City, Alabama has now reached its 3rd full day.
65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, known as the “shovel-man” by locals for running off trespassers with a shovel, boarded a school bus on Tuesday with a note demanding that driver Charles Albert Poland Jr. hand over two boys. When Poland Jr. refused, he was shot and killed by Dykes who then grabbed a 5-year-old boy and retreated with his hostage to an underground bunker on his property.
Poland’s son told NBC News, “Every time a child got on my dad’s bus, they were no longer their parents’, they were his.”
Dale County Sheriff officials are releasing minimal information as it is believed that Dykes has TV access that keeps him connected to news reports of the situation. Dykes, a Vietnam veteran and survivalist, has stayed in his underground bunker for as long as 8 days on previous occasions according to locals familiar with the retired truck driver.
State Representative Steve Clouse spoke with the mother of the boy who is being held hostage and stated that she is “holding on by a thread.” He added that the boy suffers from Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but he’s been provided with necessary medicine as well as crayons and coloring books.
The young boy, identified only as Ethan, is believed to be okay as hostage negotiators have been communicating with Dykes via a lengthy PVC pipe – the same one used to deliver items to the child. The bunker has been described by a neighbor as being approximately 4 feet wide, 6 feet long and 8 feet deep and covered by several feet of sand. According to sources familiar with the crisis, Dykes is well equipped with power, food, and plenty of supplies.
Clint Van Zandt, a former chief hostage negotiator with the FBI, told MSNBC, “Time decreases stress and anxiety in a hostage situation and as long as you can measure that, there is no need to move this forward and perhaps get someone hurt.”