Everything You Need To Know About The Alabama Bunker Hostage Crisis

It’s now been two days since an “anti-government” Vietnam veteran barricaded himself and the child. The family “hold[s] on by a thread.”

1. The crisis began Tuesday afternoon in Midland City — population 2,300 — when a man believed to be Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, boarded a school bus, shot the driver and took off with a child.

(Danny Tindell/Dothan Eagle)

2. Dykes’ motive is still unclear, though on Wednesday, he missed a court hearing for a misdemeanor charge of menacing, which he was arrested for on Dec. 22. (He spent four days in jail.)


[source 1, 2]

Pictured: Destiny Church, the scene of a shooting and hostage taking.

3. Michael Senn, a pastor who comforted the children on the bus, told reporters Dykes “just wanted a child for a hostage situation.”



4. Charles Albert Poland, the 66-year-old bus driver, died. Dykes reportedly shot him four times after he refused to hand over the bus of 21 children. Local officials have called Poland “a hero.”



5. After kidnapping the child, Dykes fled to a bunker equipped with power, food and television, located near the trailer he lived in.

Phil Sears / Reuters

6. Authorities on the scene began communicating with Dykes via a pipe in the ground. They also believed they found a bomb on the property and evacuated neighbors.

Mickey Welsh / AP

7. “He’s not right in the head,” one neighbor said. He once beat another neighbor’s dog to death with a lead pipe. He walks around at night with a flashlight and a shotgun. He’s a Vietnam veteran who has PTSD and doesn’t trust the government.


[source 1, 2, 3]

8. Police have said they have no reason to believe Dykes has hurt the child, but the standoff continues.


9. The boy — reportedly named Ethan — was given medicine he needed, a box of crayons and a coloring book. But state representatives who spoke to Ethan’s parents say they are “holding on by a thread.”


[source 1, 2]

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Jessica Testa is a national reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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