UK & World News

  • 31 January 2013, 11:57

Child Held Hostage After School Bus Shooting

A gunman who shot and killed a school bus driver before taking a five-year-old boy hostage on Tuesday remains holed up in a bunker at his home in Alabama.

Armed officers and police negotiators have surrounded the property in Midland City.

The suspect has been named locally as 65-year-old lorry driver Jimmy Lee Dykes.

Local people described him as a survivalist, who hates the government and the authorities.

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

The stand-off began on Tuesday afternoon when a gunman boarded a stationary school bus filled with children.

Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over the boy. The gunman then took the child 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 other children after the attack.

Bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr, 66, has been described by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.

Mr Olson said negotiators are continuing to talk to the suspect and "at this time we have no reason to believe that the child has been harmed".

Mike and Patricia Smith's two children were also on the bus.

The mother told how their son ran inside his house shouting: "The crazy man across the street shot the bus driver and Mr Poland won't wake up."

The couple said their youngsters had a run-in with the neighbour about 10 months ago.

"My bulldogs got loose and went over there," Patricia Smith said.

"The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back."

"He's very paranoid," her husband said. "He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun."

Nearby homes were evacuated after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb at the property.

State Representative Steve Clouse described the standoff as a "static situation" and "a waiting game".

Authorities told him that the bunker on the suspect's property has electricity, food and a TV.

Police have not said whether the suspect has made any demands.

Advertisement