Standoff continues at Alabama bunker

Posted: February 02, 2013

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - The standoff between police and a gunman accused of holding a kindergartner hostage in an underground bunker dragged into a fourth day on Friday, as authorities sought to continue delicate conversations with the man through a pipe and worked to safely end the tense situation.

Police said Jimmy Lee Dykes shot a school bus driver to death, grabbed a 5-year-old boy off the bus, and slipped into an underground bunker on his property in rural Alabama, where the pair has been since Tuesday. There were signs the standoff could go on: the shelter has electricity, food, and TV, and police have delivered the boy's medication through a 4-inch-wide PVC ventilation pipe leading to the bunker.

Hostage negotiators have used the pipe to talk to the gunman, but investigators have been tightlipped about their conversations. The shelter is about 4 feet underground, with about a 6-by-8-foot floor space, said James Arrington, police chief of neighboring Pinckard.

Republican Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, said that he visited the boy's mother Thursday and that she is "hanging on by a thread." He said the mother told him the boy has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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 on his property, and patroled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm.

No motive has been discussed by investigators. Federal authorities have not released any details about the standoff or investigation.

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