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Alabama hostage victim OK; suspect dead

February 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A six-day standoff with a man who took a 5-year-old boy hostage in Alabama has ended. The suspect is dead, according to authorities. The boy was safely released.

Authorities at a brief Monday afternoon news conference said the FBI had safely recovered the boy. Within the past 24 hours, negotiations had deteriorated. The suspect, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, had been observed holding a gun and authorities, fearing for the safety of the boy, entered the bunker and rescued the child in the afternoon.

Authorities were able to insert a high-tech camera into the bunker and monitor Dykes' activity. A SWAT team was positioned near the entrance to the bunker. Loud explosives were set off to stun Dykes, and then the agents moved in. Dykes was killed in the process, but the child was unharmed. It was not immediately reported how he died. The boy was being treated at a hospital.

"[Ethan] is doing fine. He's laughing, joking, playing, eating -- things that you would expect a normal 5- to 6-year-old young man to do," said Steve Richardson with the FBI.

Investigators say they still have no motive for Dykes' actions. Dykes pulled the child from a school bus on Tuesday after killing the driver, who tried to protect the 21 students on board.

"[Dykes] said he was going to kill us, going to kill us all," 14-year-old Tarrica Singletary told ABC News. "The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and [Dykes] said, 'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus.' He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."

In a brief press conference earlier Monday afternoon, authorities said they continued to provide the boy with food, medicine and other items of comfort. They remained reticent about other details.

Negotiators had been communicating with Dykes through a ventilation pipe that leads to the bunker. They had sent down items for the boy, including medicine, snacks and toys. Officials said the bunker had electricity.

The 5-year-old's mother told officials that her child has Asperger's syndrome, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Dykes was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who neighbors said once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.

The community in Midland City gathered Sunday to say their final goodbyes to the bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland J. He is being hailed as a hero for protecting the other children on the bus before he was gunned down.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.


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