The Alabama man police say shot and killed a school bus driver Tuesday in an attempt to kidnap a 6-year-old boy has been hunkered down for hours with the child in an underground bunker on his remote property, The Dothan Eagle, a local newspaper, reported.
The paper reported that neighbors in Midland City, which is in south Alabama, identified the suspect as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 67. Police have not officially released the suspect’s identity.
Michael Creel, who lives on the road where the shooting occured, said a girl told him that the shooter boarded the bus and told the driver that he needed two kids “between the ages of 6 and 8.”
Court records showed Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to face a charge of menacing some neighbors as they drove by his house last month. 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.
Police with SWAT teams and negotiators were at the rural property. Residents in the surrounding area were evacuated and a bomb squad was at the scene, the WSFA.com reported.
About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered early Wednesday at the mouth of a dirt road off a U.S. highway. The dead-end road leads to homes including the suspect’s property, which was over a low rise behind a church on the highway and couldn’t be seen from where reporters were being kept back.
Authorities have been in contact with the suspect and the boy is believed to be OK, WSFA said. The situation is considered delicate.
The Dale County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt told The Associated Press the overnight standoff continued early Wednesday with tactical units, negotiators and other officers at the scene near a church. He said the suspect was believed to be in an area described as a place “to get out of the way of a tornado.”
The Dale County Sheriff’s Office named the victim as 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland, Jr. It said he had been a bus driver since 2009 for the Dale County Board of Education.
Authorities from multiple agencies were on the scene and nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precautionary measure, said Rachel David, a spokeswoman for the police department in the nearby town of Dothan.
Creel, who lives on the road where the shooting happened, said he went outside after his sister heard gunshots.
“Me and her started running down the road,” Creel told the Dothan Eagle. “That’s when I realized the bus had its siren going off. Kids were filing out, running down the hill toward the church.”
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 laundry mat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just started and stared and stared at me.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.