MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - Authorities stormed an underground bunker Monday in southeastern Alabama, freeing a 5-year-old boy and leaving his captor dead after a week of fruitless negotiations that left authorities convinced the child was in imminent danger.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, had taken the child off a school bus after fatally shooting the driver, authorities said. He was known by neighbors for his anti-government rants and for patrolling his property with a gun, ready to shoot trespassers. He had stayed for several days in the tiny bunker before.
"He always said he'd never be taken alive. I knew he'd never come out of there," said an acquaintance, Roger Arnold.
Dykes had been seen with a gun, and officers concluded the boy was in imminent danger, said Steve Richardson of the FBI's office in Mobile. It was not immediately clear how authorities determined the man had a gun, or exactly how Dykes died.
Monday evening, officers were sweeping the property to make sure Dykes had not set up any bombs that could detonate. Full details of the bunker raid had not yet emerged. However, neighbors described hearing what sounded like gunshots around the time officials said they entered the shelter.
At a late Monday news conference, authorities declined to elaborate on how they had observed Dykes or on how he died, citing the pending investigation.
Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said 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.
Authorities said the boy has been reunited with his mother and appears to be OK.
Richardson said he had been to the hospital to see the boy and he was laughing, joking, eating and "doing the things you'd expect a normal 5- or 6-year-old to do."
Michael Senn, pastor of a church near where reporters had been camped out since the standoff began, said he was relieved the child had been taken to safety. However, he also recalled the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., who had been hailed as a hero for protecting nearly two dozen other children on the bus before being shot by Dykes.