MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - Police, SWAT teams and negotiators kept vigil Wednesday morning near an underground bunker in rural Alabama where a gunman was holding a 6-year-old boy hostage after snatching him from a school bus Tuesday afternoon and killing the driver.
The Dale County Sheriff told WBMA-TV that the man shot the driver in Midland City on Tuesday afternoon when he refused to let the child off the bus.
The sheriff''s office identified the driver as Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, who had been a school bus driver for four years.
Michael Senn, a local minister, told WSFA-TV that one girl who was on the bus said the gunman ordered most of the students off the vehicle. He then grabbed a young boy and shot the bus driver four times, Senn said. He said one 13-year-old on the bus was "really traumatized" by the incident.
The gunman, who was believed to live nearby, then took his hostage to the underground bunker, apparently on his property, which was described as a place normally used as protection from tornadoes.
Authorities communicated with the suspect through a PVC pipe connected to the bunker, WSFA reported.
The Dothan Eagle identified the suspect as Jimmy Lee Dykes, who was reportedly facing a court hearing Wednesday on a charge of a "menacing" following an arrest last month.
The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch, which tracks radical hate groups, said an official with the Dale County sheriff's office that Dykes has ties with the antigovernment "survivalist "movement."
According to Hatewatch, Tim Byrd, chief investigator with the Dale County Sheriff's Office, said Dykes had "anti-America" views, though he did not immediately elaborate.
"His friends and his neighbors stated that he did not trust the government, that he was a Vietnam vet, and that he had PTSD," Byrd said, according to Hatewatch. "He was standoffish, didn't socialize or have any contact with anybody. He was a survivalist type."
WDHN-TV reporter Josh Rultenberg told CNN Wednesday that the 65-year-old suspect had been building the bunker for several months and had enough food inside to stay for four months.
Claudia Davis, who lives on the road where the standoff was taking place, said she and her neighbors can't leave because the one road was blocked by police, the Associated Press reported.
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 laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just started and stared and stared at me."
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.
The Dale County, Daleville City and Ozark City school systems canceled classes on Wednesday because of the standoff.