Hostage drama stretches into third day after Alabama school bus shooting

Law enforcement officials walk near the scene of a shooting and hostage taking in Midland City, Alabama.

A gunman suspected of fatally shooting an Alabama school bus driver before holing up in an underground bunker with a young child is a Vietnam veteran with anti-government views, authorities and an organization that tracks hate groups said.

Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies were bivouacked near the bunker in Midland City but offered few details about a standoff with the shooter that stretched into its second day on Wednesday.

Authorities said driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was killed after the gunman boarded a bus ferrying more than 20 children home from school on Tuesday.

The suspect demanded the driver let a student off the bus, Alabama media reported. When Poland refused, the man boarded the bus and shot the driver before taking a 6-year-old kindergarten student and fleeing the scene.

The shooting and subsequent hostage drama came as a national debate rages over gun violence, especially in schools, after a gunman shot dead 20 students and six staff members at a Connecticut elementary school last month.

In Alabama on Wednesday night, the suspected gunman remained holed up with the boy in the underground bunker on his property down a dirt road. Any efforts to negotiate with the man, or to stage a hostage rescue operation, were shrouded in secrecy with authorities declining to comment.

Television images showed security force officers, clad in camouflage uniforms and brandishing assault rifles, patrolling the area.

An Alabama legislator, Representative Steve Clouse, told reporters the hostage suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD but had apparently been able to receive his medication while held captive. The Dale County Sheriff’s Department said the child was not believed to have been harmed.

Schools in the area of the Alabama shooting were closed on Wednesday and will remain shuttered for the rest of the week.

DRIVER HAILED AS HERO

Dale County Superintendent Donny Bynum lauded Poland as “a hero … who gave his life to protect 21 students who are now home safely with their families.”

The superintendent’s assistant said the young boy still being held by the gunman appeared to have been chosen at random.

“Emotions are high, and it’s a struggle for us all to make sense of something so senseless, but let us keep this young student, his family and Mr. Poland’s family in our thoughts and prayers,” Bynum said in a statement.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reported on its Hatewatch blog that a chief investigator with the Dale County Sheriff’s Office identified the gunman as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, although Reuters could not independently verify the gunman’s identity.

Investigator Tim Byrd said Dykes’ friends and neighbors described him as a “survivalist” who did not trust the government, according to the law center blog.

“He was standoffish, didn’t socialize or have any contact with anybody,” Byrd told Hatewatch.

Dykes had not been on the law center’s radar before the shooting and standoff, and there was nothing to suggest he was a member of any hate group, said senior fellow Mark Potok.

“What it looks like is that he’s some kind of anti-government radical and survivalist,” Potok told Reuters. “And exactly what that means, we don’t know.”

Court records show Dykes had been due to appear for a bench trial on Wednesday following his arrest last month on a menacing charge.

James Edward Davis, a neighbor of Dykes, told CNN the arrest stemmed from an incident on December 10 when Dykes pulled a gun on him and his young daughter. According to Davis, Dykes was upset because he believed Davis had driven onto his property. Dykes fired two gunshots as Davis sped off in his car, he said.

“This man has been an accident waiting to happen. He’s been a ticking time bomb,” Ronda Wilbur, another neighbor of Dykes, told CNN, complaining he had killed her family dog by beating it with a lead pipe and then bragged about it to her husband.

“He got increasingly more bizarre. He spent most of the last two years moving concrete blocks around and digging, constantly digging and moving dirt,” she said of Dykes.

Wilbur and other neighbors said Dykes had moved into the area about two years ago and kept mostly to himself.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

News

Explosions in new Boston Marathon bomb panic, 'twisted'…

A fresh Boston Marathon terror alert, which caused Bomb Squad officers to order an evacuation while two controlled explosions were carried out, was today being…

National

Reddit boosts news capabilities in social media turf…

By Jennifer SabaNEW YORK (Reuters) - Reddit, a website with a retro-'90s look and space-alien mascot that tracks everything from online news to celebrity Q&As,…

Local

New York joins accord to strengthen popular vote…

New York State joined a nationwide effort that would gives the state's 29 electoral votes for president to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.

Entertainment

Miley Cyrus hospitalized, cancels Kansas concert, condition unknown,…

Singer Miley Cyrus was hospitalized on Tuesday night after suffering what is believed to be 'a severe allergic reaction' to antibiotics medication. The 21-year-old Bangerz…

Television

'Orphan Black's' Jordan Gavaris talks Felix's Season 2…

Jordan Gavaris plays heroically helpful foster sibling Felix to main clone Sarah on "Orphan Black." We talked to him about what’s ahead for him in…

Going Out

Accomplice Tour: New York (Spoiler Alert)

When I signed up for the Accomplice show tour, I had no idea what I was in for. But every grimy job comes with a great reward.

Television

TV watch list, Tuesday, April 15: 'New Girl,'…

'New Girl' Nick and Jess are hiding their breakup from the other loft residents. And Winston passes the police academy exam! That guy needed some…

NBA

Nets miss chance to clinch No. 5 seed…

Nets head coach Jason Kidd expressed little concern after a 109-98 loss to the Knicks, but others seemed to disagree.

NFL

Jets confident despite Chris Johnson leaving with no…

Jets fans clamored for a playmaker on offense all offseason. It looked like they were going to land that player on Tuesday when Chris Johnson…

NBA

Knicks, Nets rivalry never materialized despite national attention

When the NBA schedule was released, the league anticipated an intense rivalry between the Nets and Knicks with all four games slated for national TV.

NBA

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could…

NBA Power Rankings: Are the Spurs frauds? Could the Mavericks surprise?

Home

Steal home decorating tips from Nattystyle blogger Natalie…

Despite the towering ceilings and enviable exposed brick, it’s easy to see how Natalie Decleve’s apartment could be considered a challenge. Perched above the streets…

Home

How to plant a garden in the city

Small on space but big on gardening? You can still have that welcoming oasis of fresh air with an urban garden. Peter Smith, owner of…

Style

Personalize your massage at a private practice

CityTouch customizes spa treatments to meet client's needs.

Style

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show moving to England

It will still broadcast on CBS this fall.