MIDLAND CITY, Ala. —Â As an AlabamaÂ hostage standoff entered a sixth day, details emerged about the suspect, JimmyÂ Lee Dykes.
Authorities say Dykes, 65 — a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War known asÂ Jimmy to neighbors — gunned down a school bus driver and then abducted aÂ 5-year-old boy from the bus, taking him to an underground bunker on his ruralÂ property. The driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr., was to be buriedÂ Sunday.
Dykes, described as a loner who railed against the government, lives up aÂ dirt road outside this tiny hamlet north of Dothan in the southeast corner ofÂ the state. His home is just off the main road north to the state capital ofÂ Montgomery, about 80 miles away.
The FBI said in a statement Sunday that authorities continue to have an openÂ line of communication with Dykes and that they planned to deliver to the bunkerÂ additional comfort items such as food, toys and medicine. They also said DykesÂ was making the child as comfortable as possible.
Government records and interviews with neighbors indicate that Dykes grew upÂ in the Dothan area and joined the Navy in Midland City, serving on active dutyÂ from 1964 to 1969. His record shows several awards, including the VietnamÂ Service Medal and the Good Conduct Medal. During his service, Dykes was trainedÂ in aviation maintenance.
Later, Dykes lived in Florida, where he worked as a surveyor and a long-haulÂ truck driver although it’s unclear how long.
He had some scrapes with the law there, including a 1995 arrest for improperÂ exhibition of a weapon. The misdemeanor was dismissed. He also was arrested forÂ marijuana possession in 2000.
He returned to Alabama about two years ago, moving onto the rural tract aboutÂ 100 yards from his nearest neighbors, Michael Creel and his father, Greg.
Neighbors described Dykes as a man who once beat a dog to death with a leadÂ pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, andÂ patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm. Michael Creel saidÂ Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
The Dykes property has a white trailer which, according to Creel, Dykes saidÂ he bought from FEMA after it was used to house evacuees from Hurricane Katrina.Â The property also has a steel shipping container — like those on containerÂ ships — in which Dykes stores tools and supplies.
Next to the container is the underground bunker where authorities say DykesÂ is holed up with the 5-year-old. Neighbors say that the bunker has a pipe soÂ Dykes could hear people coming near his driveway. Authorities have been usingÂ the ventilation pipe to communicate with him.
The younger Creel, who said he helped Dykes with supplies to build the bunkerÂ and has been in it twice, said Dykes wanted protection from hurricanes.
“He said he lived in Florida and had hurricanes hit. He wanted someplace heÂ could go down in and be safe,” Creel said. Authorities say the bunker is about 6Â feet by 8 feet, and the only entrance is a trap door at the top.
Such bunkers are not uncommon in rural Alabama because of the threat ofÂ tornadoes.
Greg Creel was a friend of Dykes, but he said he would not comment for TheÂ Associated Press. “I will only talk to the police and the FBI,” he said.
Michael Creel said Dykes kept to himself and listened a lot to conservativeÂ talk radio.
“He was very into what’s going on with the nation and the politics and allÂ the laws being made. The things he didn’t agree with, he would ventilate,” heÂ said.
James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, put itÂ differently.
“He’s against the government, starting with Obama on down,” he said.
Morris Dees of Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, a group that tracksÂ hate crimes, said Dykes was not on the group’s radar.
Although the fatal shootings in December at a school in Newtown, Conn., areÂ still on everyone’s mind, Dees said he doesn’t think Dykes was trying to be aÂ copycat.
“Probably not. He had a whole bus load full of kids, and he could have walkedÂ up there and shot the whole crowd of them,” he said.
“I think he’s just a really angry and bitter guy with some anger managementÂ issues,” Dees said. “He is just against everything — the government and hisÂ neighbors.”
The mother of the 5-year-old boy is ‘hanging on by a thread,’ said a localÂ politician who visited the woman.
State Rep. Steve Clouse, who represents the Midland City area, said theÂ mother told him that the boy has Asperger’s syndrome as well as attentionÂ deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
Residents are praying for the safe return of the boy.
“The community is real concerned,” said Fred McNab, mayor of Pinckard, Ala.Â “You can tell by the food that’s been carried over there to the church. It’sÂ just devastating. We want it to come to a resolution. We want to save thatÂ little child.”
Source: Fox News