The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

January 31, 2013

Alabama child hostage standoff in second day at bunker

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — A standoff in rural Alabama went into a second full day as police surrounded an underground bunker where authorities said a retired truck driver was holding a 5-year-old hostage he grabbed off a school bus after shooting the driver dead.

A normally quiet dirt road was teeming with activity Thursday around the siege that began late Tuesday. More than a dozen police cars and trucks, a fire truck, a helicopter, officers from multiple agencies, media and at least one ambulance crowded the stretch where the dead-end residential road branches off a U.S. highway near Midland City, population 2,300. A staging area for law enforcement was lit by bright lights overnight.  

The boy being held was watching TV and getting medication sent from home, according to state Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy’s family. Clouse said the bunker had food and electricity.

Authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who 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 shotgun.

Authorities say the gunman boarded a stopped school bus Tuesday afternoon and demanded two boys between 6 and 8 years old. When the driver tried to block his way, the gunman shot him several times and took a 5-year-old boy off the bus.

Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors with a gun as they drove by his house weeks ago.

Homes on the road had been evacuated earlier after authorities found what they believed to be a bomb on the property. SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman’s property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener’s safe release.

The situation remained unchanged for hours as negotiators talked to the suspect, Alabama State Trooper Charles Dysart told a news conference late Wednesday. Earlier in the day, Sheriff Wally Olson said that authorities had “no reason to believe that the child has been harmed.”

Local TV station WDHN obtained a police dispatch recording of the moment officers first arrived at the site. On it, the officers are heard saying that they were trying to communicate with Dykes through a PVC pipe leading into the shelter.

Authorities gave no details of the standoff, and it was unclear if Dykes made any demands from the bunker, which some officials described as being like the underground tornado shelters some homes have in their yards.

“As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation,” said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort other traumatized children after the attack.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the 21 students aboard the bus. Authorities say most of the students scrambled to the back of the bus when the gunman boarded.

Neighbors described a number of run-ins with Dykes in the time since he moved to this small town near the Georgia and Florida borders, in a region known for peanut farming. Dykes had been scheduled to appear in court to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

In that dispute, neighbor Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

Mike and Patricia Smith, who live across the street from Dykes and whose two children were on the bus, said their youngsters had a run-in with him about 10 months ago.

“My bulldogs got loose and went over there,” Patricia Smith said. “The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back.”

“He’s very paranoid,” her husband said. “He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun.”

Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

“He said his only regret was he didn’t beat him to death all the way,” Wilbur said. “If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it’s nothing until it’s going to be people.”

Court records showed Dykes was arrested in Florida in 1995 for improper exhibition of a weapon, but the misdemeanor was dismissed. The circumstances of the arrest were not detailed in his criminal record. He was also arrested for marijuana possession in 2000.

 

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414trainwreck.jpg Coming Sunday: Service to mark the centennial of deadly train wreck

    One of the deadliest train wrecks in U.S. history occurred a century ago just south of Joplin, near Tipton Ford.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • 1717 Marketplace developer facing more federal charges

    The Springfield developer of 1717 Marketplace on Range Line Road in Joplin is now facing additional bankruptcy fraud charges beyond those leveled against him last year for a series of bank fraud and wire fraud schemes.

    July 25, 2014

  • 072514_boyfriend3.jpg Overacted on purpose: 'The Boy Friend' is a send-off of '20s-era musicals

    The musical is filled with history. It is the third-longest-running musical in British history, and Julie Andrews starred in the Broadway debut of the play in America. The musical is also the first Broadway musical to be performed by Joplin Little Theatre, which first picked up the script in 1960, about 20 years after its formation.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514_chubby.jpg Grammy win has kept zydeco singer Chubby Carrier busy

    Since winning a Grammy for Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album in 2011, Chubby Carrier's schedule has filled up. But he is thrilled to be able to return to Joplin.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Our View.jpg Our View: Scratch this off your list

    Missouri voters will go to the polls on Aug. 5 and consider a measure that would create a new lottery ticket devoted to helping fund the Missouri Veterans Commission.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Oklahoma appellate court upholds class-action status in lawsuit filed by Picher residents

    An appellate court this week upheld a 2013 lower court ruling permitting class-action status for a lawsuit brought by former residents of Picher, Oklahoma, against a Tulsa-based appraisal firm involved with the buyout.

    July 25, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting 2.jpg Cause sought for gunfight between patient, doctor

    Authorities are attempting to determine why a patient fatally shot a caseworker at a suburban Philadelphia hospital complex and whether a psychiatrist who pulled out his own gun and wounded the patient had concerns about him.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014