Jimmy Lee Dykes, described as an anti-American survivalist, is dead; shot to death by police officers in Midland City, Dale County, Alabama. In Midland City last week, Dykes boarded a bus driven by 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., a retired diesel mechanic, and demanded to remove two children. Poland placed himself between Dykes and the children. Dykes, a Vietnam veteran, shot and killed the driver, took a five-year-old boy named Ethan hostage, and escaped. Four spent shotgun shells were recovered from the scene.
Jimmy Lee Dykes has been described as standoffish; not one to socialize. Danny Dean, a neighbor, said, “He’s always got a shovel; he loved to shovel for some damn reason.” Mr. Dean recalls having seen Jimmy Lee Dykes on several occasions. “On Monday I saw him at a laundra-mat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just stared and stared at me.” Neighbor Michael Creel told local papers, “He’s the type that thinks the government’s out to get him. He’s not right in the head.”
Dykes had an underground bunker in his back yard area, and he took the boy there, knowing the police would not be far behind. The bunker had been stocked with supplies, including a portable electric heater and a television set. There was a long ventilation pipe that extended to the front of Dykes’s property. Dykes could hear those who approached while they were some distance off.
Police and FBI agents were cautious as they reached the Dykes property and the bunker. They waited for an opportunity to rescue young Ethan, while being cautious not to incite Dykes to harm or kill the boy. They were able to bring in toys, food, and medicine (like Cheez-Its and a red Hot Wheels car). The boy was unharmed at that point, and the police were patient.
Records indicate that Jimmy Lee Dykes was free on bond from the Dale County Jail, having been charged in December with “menacing.” A neighbor named Smith told the Associated Press that the unruly Dykes had once threatened his son and daughter, after Smith’s dogs invaded Dykes property. Smith also mentioned to the AP that both his children were on the bus during the fatal shooting.
Police waited and established contact with the perpetrator, and continued that contact day after day. Then, seven days into the standoff, there came a point when the officers felt the boy was in immediate danger. Special Agent in Charge Stephen Richardson told the press, “Within the past 24 hours negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun. At this point, FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.” “The child was recovered at 3:12 p.m. Central Time and appears physically unharmed. He is being treated at a local hospital and has been reunited with his mother.”
The Dothan Eagle reported two loud blasts from the scene just before 3:30 p.m. The initial blast came from a diversionary device, the FBI told reporters. The officers had lowered a camera into the bunker which allowed them to determine when best to enter. Following the blast, they entered through the trap door at the top. Dykes, who was injured when officers entered the bunker, was killed and the boy was rescued. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson hasn’t said how the captor died.
Happily five-year-old Ethan has been reunited with his mother, and is receiving treatment at a local hospital. Agent Richardson stated that the boy was “laughing, joking, playing, eating – the things you would expect of a normal 5-to-6-year-old.”
Photos: NPR, CBC (Calif) News