Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Standoff after man kidnaps boy, 5

Police try to negotiate release of youngster

  • Print

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. -- A gunman holed up in a bunker with a five-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay Wednesday in an all-night, all-day standoff that began when he killed a school bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said.

SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman's rural property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener's safe release.

Sheriff Wally Olson said in a brief statement Wednesday evening negotiators continued talking to the suspect and "at this time we have no reason to believe that the child has been harmed."

The gunman, identified by neighbours as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was known around the neighbourhood as a 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.

He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbours in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

The standoff along a red dirt road began on Tuesday afternoon, after a gunman boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in the town of Midland City, population 2,300. The sheriff said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a five-year-old child. The gunman then took the boy away.

"As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation," said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort the traumatized children after the attack.

Authorities gave no details on the standoff, and it was unclear if Dykes made any demands from his underground bunker, which resembled a tornado shelter.

About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered at the end of a dirt road near where Dykes lived in a small travel trailer. Nearby homes were evacuated after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb on his property.

State Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy's family, said the bunker had food and electricity, and the youngster was watching TV. He said law enforcement authorities were communicating with the gunman, but he had no details on how.

At one point, authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said. The lawmaker said he did not know what the medicine was for or whether it was urgently needed.

The bus driver in Alabama, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.

Chris Voss, a former international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI, said negotiators at the scene should remain patient and calm, resisting the urge to force a quick resolution.

"Getting what you want is not the same as getting even," said Voss, whose firm, the Black Swan Group, now consults on high-stakes negotiations. "Flooding the zone will not save lives."

Patricia Smith said her children told her what happened on the bus: Two other children had just been dropped off and the Smith children were next. Dykes stepped onto the bus and grabbed the door so the driver couldn't close it. Dykes told the driver he wanted two boys without saying why.

According to Smith, Dykes started down the aisle of the bus and the driver put his arm out to block him. Dykes fired four shots at Poland with a handgun, Smith said.

"He did give his life, saving children," Mike Smith said.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 31, 2013 A17

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

It’s the End Of the Term And They Know It, Part Two

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose comes in for a landing Thursday morning through heavy fog on near Hyw 59 just north of Winnipeg - Day 17 Of Joe Bryksa’s 30 day goose challenge - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Winnipeg’s best friend the dragon fly takes a break at English Gardens in Assiniboine Park Wednesday- A dragon fly can eat  food equal to its own weight in 30 minutes-Standup photo- June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you support Pimicikamak First Nation's protest against Manitoba Hydro?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google