An Alabama man who boarded a school bus and shot the driver Tuesday afternoon is still in a standoff late Wednesday morning, authorities said. The gunman has a 6-year-old hostage that he took from the bus. The gunman, identified by WDHN as 65 year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, took the hostage and went into an underground bunker late Tuesday evening.
Children witnesses from the bus say the gunman shot the bus driver multiple times as he attempted to stop the gunman from taking the child. One child told ABC the gunman handed the bus driver a note, but something happened that caused Dykes to start screaming about needing a child before the law comes to get him. When the bus driver put up a fight, that’s when Dykes began shooting.
According to WDHN, authorities are communicating with the man through a piece of PVC piping as he and the child remain in the bunker or storm shelter. Police confirmed overnight that the child has not been physically harmed. The tension of the situation was heightened by the fact the child has medication that needs to be taken daily, but authorities provided the gunman with that medication in the middle of the night.
Dykes’ motivations have not yet been determined by the FBI, which has assumed the lead on the case. Dykes was scheduled to be in court on Wednesday morning for a trial related to menacing charges he faces. He was arrested before Christmas for allegedly pulling a gun on a man. It is believed that the bunker or storm shelter that both Dykes and the hostage occupy is behind Dykes’ house.
CBS.com said at least 50 federal vehicles are blocking a dirt road off a highway and the gunman’s property is at the end of that road. The house and bunker cannot be seen from where reporters are being held.
Alabama authorities have not released the name of the gunman but have named the bus driver. Sixty-six year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr. had been driving school busses since 2009. Some of the area around where the shooting occurred near Midland City has been evacuated and Ozark City Schools will be closed for the rest of the week.
One neighbor of the gunman said Dykes usually stares off into space when she sees him.