The Dale County Sheriff’s Department identified Jimmy Lee Dykes as the man who fatally shot an Alabama bus driver before kidnapping a 5-year-old boy and holding him hostage in a homemade bunker on his property. The incident occurred at about 3:40 p.m. on Tuesday as the bus was taking children home after school. The suspect and boy have been holed up since as deputies, state troopers and police surrounded the suspect’s home in an attempt to rescue the boy. Here’s what you need to know about the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes.
1. Jimmy Lee Dykes Fatally Shot Charles Albert Poland Jr.
2. He’s Holed Up in an Underground Bunker With a 5-Year-Old Boy
The suspect fled to an underground bunker with the boy. He reportedly started building the bunker himself when he moved into the property two years ago. It measures about six-by-eight feet and is about four feet underground. James Edward Davis, a neighbor of Dykes, said the man spent the last two years moving around concrete blocks and constantly digging and moving dirt. The bunker is one made to be a shelter from disasters such as a tornado.
3. The Boy in Hostage Has Autism
The boy Dykes is holding hostage is a 5-year-old kindergarten student, Ethan, who suffers from a form of Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. At one point, authorities were able to get the suspect to agree to lowering the boy’s medication into the bunker. Police communicated with the boy through a PVC pipe in the bunker and learned that he has been watching TV and even coloring with crayons and a coloring book that they were able to lower down to him as well. The boy’s parents have said that they don’t know Dykes and that he is just a hostage. Investigators who are still communication with the suspect said that there is no reason to believe that the boy has been harmed in any way. Members of the community gathered in churches on Wednesday and and held a candlelight vigil in the town square to pray for the boy and Poland.
4. He Was in the U.S. Navy
The U.S. Navy released records of Dykes’ involvement from 1964 to 1969. He was a third class aviation maintenance administrationman and received several awards and decorations.
5. The Gunman Originally Wanted Two Boys
It’s reported that the suspect originally wanted two boys; the 6-year-old and another 8-year-old boy, but he didn’t say why. He was able to make off with the 6-year-old because the boy fainted, allowing Dykes to grab him.
6. Dykes Was Supposed to be in Court on Wednesday
Dykes was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday to face menacing charges after he shot at his neighbor, Claudia Davis. James Edward Davis was in the process of moving when his truck, hauling a trailer, damaged a dirt speed bump that Dykes had built across the road. He became angry and when Davis tried to calm him down, he ran to his nearby van, pulled out a pistol and fired two shots at their truck that carried Claudia, their son and 6-month-old granddaughter.
“Before this happened I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me,” Claudia Davis said. “On Monday I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just started and stared and stared at me.”
7. He’s Holding the Boy Hostage Until a Reporter Tells His Story
The Daily Mail learned that Dykes said that he will release the boy if a reporter is sent to tell his story. A source from the local sheriff’s office said that within the first few hours of the hostage situation, the man tried to bargain with police saying that he will let the boy go if a reporter tells the story of “how the government had screwed him.”
8. Neighbors Say He Was a “Ticking Time Bomb”
“This man has been an accident waiting to happen. He’s been a ticking time bomb,” Ronda Wilbur said of his hostile behaviour.
Patricia Smith, who lives across the street from the suspect, said Dykes threatened her children.
“My bulldogs got loose and went over there,” Smith said. “The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back.”
9. Dykes Killed a Dog For Roaming Onto His Property
Ronda Wilbur said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe when it got over on his side of the road. The family dog died a week later. Animal control went over and spoke to the suspect, but nothing was done about the issue.
“He said his only regret was he didn’t beat him to death all the way,” Wilbur said. “If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it’s nothing until it’s going to be people.”
10. His Bunker is Stocked with Food to Last Him Weeks
The bunker holding the suspect and the boy is said to be stocked with food that will last the two of them weeks. Hopefully it doesn’t take that long for police to recover the boy. At least the fact that Dykes was humane enough to give the boy his medication gives a little bit of hope for his well-being.