Alabama Man Kills Bus Driver, Holds Child Hostage In His Backyard Bunker

jimmyleedykes

FINAL UPDATE: The FBI has released pictures of Dykes’s property. Here is the speaking tube at his front gate:

dykestube

UPDATE 18: The FBI Special Agent In Charge thinks Jimmy Lee Dykes will have imitators:

Richardson said the crime scene on Private Road 1539 has been secured by special agent bomb technicians. He said it could take days to pore through the crime scene. He declined to reveal details of the rescue operation.

“Unfortunately, we will have to deal with another one of these some day,” Richardson said.

The FBI is remaining mum about how Dykes died until his autopsy is complete, but I’m guessing his death involved bullets.

UPDATE 17: Ending a week-long standoff, the FBI made Jimmy Lee Dykes a deceased person this afternoon:

The agent said negotiations with the suspect Richard Lee Dykes “deteriorated” in the past 24 hours.

“Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun. At this point the FBI agents fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child,” Richardson said.

The boy identified only as Ethan “appears physically unharmed” and is being treated at a hospital, authorities said.

UPDATE 16: Is anyone surprised by Jimmy Lee Dykes’ taste in entertainment?

Michael Creel said Dykes kept to himself and listened to a lot of conservative talk radio.

“He was very into what’s going on with the nation and the politics and all the laws being made. The things he didn’t agree with, he would ventilate,” he said.

Midland City Council member Mel Adams has known Dykes all his life and watched his descent into isolation:

He said Dykes has a sister and a brother, but that he is estranged from his family.

Adams said he didn’t know what caused the falling-out, but that he knew Dykes “had told part of his family to go to hell.”

Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper said Dykes’ sister is in a nursing home.

Adams said that law enforcement officers have talked to Dykes’ family members and advised them not to speak with reporters, and that officers told his sister there was nothing she could do to help the child in the bunker.

UPDATE 15: As we enter day 6, broccoli has never seemed so unhealthy:

According to the children on the bus, the day before Dykes, 65, acted, he told driver, Charles Poland, that he was going to give him some broccoli he had grown on his land.

His intention was to ensure that his approach caused no alarm when he boarded the vehicle on Tuesday afternoon armed with a gun.

[...] Terrica Singletary, 14, and her brother 12-year-old Tristian were among the children who escaped the clutches of the retired Alabama trucker.

They said they saw Dykes hand the driver what looked like broccoli and a note.

‘I look up and he’s talking about threatening to kill us all or something,’ Terrica told ABC’s Good Morning America. ‘He’s like, ‘I’ll kill all y’all, I’ll kill y’all, I just want two kids.’

UPDATE 14: Jimmy Lee Dykes wants to tell his story:

In those first crucial hours, Vietnam veteran Dykes attempted to strike his bargain – the boy in return for a reporter to tell his story of ‘how the government had screwed him.’

He’s apparently got a TV down there in the bunker, which is why law enforcement has been so tight-lipped. Oh, and look who’s in charge:

Police sources said the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team, often described as federal law enforcement’s only full-time counterterrorism unit, was leading negotiations aimed at securing the boy’s safe release.

Lucky for Ethan, the FBI has allegedly tried to learn the lesson of Waco: it’s better to let the madman ramble and finish his Elder Scrolls of the Seven Seals than try rooting him out with combustible teargas. Then again, they’re the FBI, so I won’t be one bit surprised if they screw up.

UPDATE 13: CNN has psychological analysis of the standoff.

UPDATE 12: Jimmy Lee Dikes’ talking pipe extends all the way to his front gate. The man built a perfect shelter for his personal storm. Here’s WDHN video coverage of Ethan’s fourth night penned up with Dikes’ demons.

UPDATE 11: Police have released a photo of Jimmy Lee Dykes. The standoff has now lasted four days.

UPDATE 10: Five year-old Ethan has now been inside the bunker with a madman for three days. Jimmy Lee Dykes shows no sign of coming out anytime soon:

Hostage negotiators in Midland City, Ala., tried Thursday to persuade the 65-year-old retired truck driver to release the 5-year-old, who has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

But they acknowledged Dykes could hold out for days.

James Arrington is police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard. He told reporters camped out at the site Thursday that Dykes has been known to hole up in the underground bunker resembling a tornado shelter for as many as eight days.

UPDATE 9: The hostage child’s name is Ethan, and he turns six in a few weeks. In the meantime, Jimmy Lee Dykes has been described as “against the government — from Obama on down:”

A neighbor directly across the street, Brock Parrish, said Dykes usually wore overalls and glasses and his posture was hunched-over. He said Dykes usually drove a run-down “creeper” van with some of the windows covered in aluminum foil.

Parrish saw him often digging in his yard, as if he was preparing a spot to lay down a driveway or a building foundation. He lived in a small camping trailer on the site. He patrolled his lawn at night, walking from corner to corner with a flashlight and an assault rifle.

UPDATE 8: More details emerge about Dykes’ history of violence:

Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

“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.”

UPDATE 7: As the standoff reached its thirtieth hour, WBRC reported tonight that

Sources close to the investigation say Dykes is a “survivalist” or “Doomsday prepper” and his bunker is stocked with food and other items that could extend his ability to stay below ground.

Dykes was well-prepared for the end of the world. Under the pressure of a court hearing, and having seen the president talk about guns, Dykes feared losing his guns — so he decided to use them before he could lose them. The demons in Dykes’ imagination fed his desperate determination to enjoy the fruits of his preparation. Deciding to bring that end down around himself rather than give up his preparations, Dykes murdered Charles Polland and finally got to live his dream.

UPDATE 6: It seems Dykes had a whole history of menacing behavior. ABC:

Mike Smith, who lives across the street, said Wednesday that Dykes once threatened to shoot his children when the family’s dogs entered his property.

Via Google, the scene of the standoff:

scoolbusshootinglocation

UPDATE 5: Jimmy Lee Dykes was not right in the head.

“It’s the craziest thing. He will be outside in his yard digging dirt at 2:30 in the morning,” Davis Jr. told the Eagle.

Creel backed Davis Jr.’s description of Dykes.

“He’s the type that thinks the government’s out to get him,” said Creel, who also said Dykes is a Vietnam veteran. “He’s not right in the head.”

UPDATE 4: More info on the menacing charge the shooter faced.

The neighbors said he yelled and fired shots over damage he claimed their pickup truck did to a make-shift speed bump in the dirt road.

UPDATE 3: AL.com is reporting that shooter Jimmy Lee Dykes was supposed to be in court this morning for a bench trial on a menacing charge.

UPDATE 2: The neighbors apparently knew something was wrong with the shooter:

Claudia Davis, who lives on the road where the standoff was taking place, said early Wednesday that she and her neighbors can’t leave because the one road was blocked by police.

Davis, 54, said she has had run-ins with the man suspected as the shooter.

“Before this happened I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me,” Davis said. “On Monday I saw him at a laundrymat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just started and stared and stared at me.”

The child being held hostage is autistic.

UPDATE 1: The shooting victim has been identified as Charles Albert Poland, Jr, age 66.

WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Jimmy Lee Dykes shot a bus driver to death in the little town of Midland City, Alabama, took a child hostage, and retreated to his bunker for an all-night standoff. WKRG reports from Mobile:

Police say the incident unfolded after the bus driver refused the suspect’s demand to let the child off of the bus. Authorities say the man took the child to an area behind a nearby church and police were negotiating with him Tuesday evening.

The school bus driver was killed.

There were other students aboard the bus when the shooting happened.

Up next, the NRA will tell us to arm the bus drivers. US News:

A little girl reportedly told Creel that the suspected shooter had come on the bus and demanded that two children ages of 6 to 8  come with him. The driver refused, and that’s when the man shot the bus driver and took off with a child, the Eagle reported.

The man was believed to be in some sort of bunker on the scene, the paper reported. The reports couldn’t be confirmed.

WSFA Montgomery reports  there’s a bomb squad at the scene. Now why would they need a bomb squad if this was just an ordinary wacko? The station talked to a neighbor of the suspect:

Creel said after firing on the driver, the suspect “retreated back onto his land” where “he’s hidden in his homemade bomb shelter.”

Creel said he chased after the suspect. “I ran into his yard. I didn’t realize that it was actually him [the neighbor] at the time…” Creel said he ran right past the suspect’s house and underground bomb shelter to the edge of a field where he thought a stranger was possibly running. Creel said by the time he found out it was his neighbor, he was out of the yard and the police were arriving on scene.

Creel said the suspect has lived on the property for around two years and, “that was one of the first things he started building.”

Given that the bunker has a speaking tube made of PVC pipe, this looks like the product of long-term planning. Dykes sounds to me like a survivalist having an existential crisis at the cost of a very brave bus driver’s life.

schoolbus

About Matt Osborne

Veteran blogging the culture wars from Alabama. Video journalist, mash-up artist, aspiring novelist, and metalhead. Expect bunnies, geekery, dark humor, and snarky empirical analysis to annoy idealists of all stripes. You can follow me on Twitter, but be ready 'cause it might get loud.
This entry was posted in alabama, crime, guns and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.