It took seven days for the covert operation toÂ come together but with the help of a mock bunker, a spy camera and numerousÂ training exercises, the rescue of five-year-old Ethan was carried out withÂ military precision.
It was revealed today how the FBI HostageÂ Rescue Team exploded their way into the bunker, dramatically rescuing Ethan andÂ killing his abductor Jimmy Lee Dykes after a secret high-tech camera alertedÂ them to the fact the boy’s life was in danger.
Agents became increasingly concerned theÂ 65-year-old’s behavior would turn violent after their negotiations with himÂ ‘deteriorated’ in the final 24 hours.
FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said:Â ‘Dykes was observed holding a gun.
‘At this point, the FBI agents, fearing theÂ child was in imminent danger, entered theÂ bunker and rescued theÂ child.’
After almost one week of being held hostage,Â Ethan was finally back in his mother’s arms unharmed, smiling and in goodÂ spirits, playing with his toy dinosaur.
Special agent Richardson said: ‘I’ve been toÂ the hospital. I visited with Ethan. He is doing fine.
‘He’sÂ laughing, joking, playing, eating, theÂ things that you would expect aÂ normal five-to-six-year-old young man to do.Â He’s very brave, he’s veryÂ lucky, and the success story is that he’s out safeÂ and doing great.’
After the raid was complete, FBI bombÂ technicians checked the propertyÂ for improvised explosiveÂ devices.
Sources told ABCNews the rescue team had beenÂ using the nearby mock bunker to train agents for different scenarios in whichÂ they could get Ethan out.
Military surveillance equipment and personnelÂ were used during the raid after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta personallyÂ approved its use for the operation.
As well as the FBI, the law enforcementÂ services of Dale County and Mobile, Alabama, the State Patrol andÂ Sheriff’sÂ office have combined to mount the rescue operation underÂ intense scrutiny andÂ under a veil of secrecy.
State Sen Harri Anne Smith revealed: ‘She putÂ her hand on the officer’s heart and said, “Sir, don’t hurt him. He’sÂ sick”.’
Ethan is expected to be released fromÂ hospital later today and will go home to his family ready to celebrate his sixthÂ birthday tomorrow.
His great aunt and uncle spoke to ABC aboutÂ the family’s relief that Ethan is back and safe.
Deborah Cooke said: ‘he is so happy to beÂ home, we all are, and he looks great. His mom said everything isÂ fine.’
She said her nephew is the kind of boy whoÂ lights up a room whenever he enters it and is always going 90mph. As for Dykes,Â the family did not know him personally but believed he was well-known in theÂ community for having many issues.
The week-long ordeal finally came to aÂ dramatic conclusion at 3.12pm yesterday.
Speaking last night Sheriff Wally Olson, whoÂ has been on the site almostÂ constantly since Ethan’s abduction and the shootingÂ of school bus driver Mr Charles ‘Chuck’ Poland, said: ‘He’s a very special childÂ who’sÂ endured a lot and by the grace of God he’s okay.’
He added that, speaking as a parent himself,Â ‘It is a relief to reunite a mother with her child.’
That longed-for reunion took place at FlowersÂ Hospital, where Ethan wasÂ taken following his rescue. He arrived sitting up onÂ a stretcher.
But the past few days ofÂ Ethan’s life andÂ those of the many law enforcement officers and friendsÂ and family here inÂ Midland City, Alabama, have been anything but normal.
The week-long standoff ended when FBI hostageÂ rescue teams felt they had no choice but to forcibly enter the bunker on hisÂ property and take the boy known onlyÂ as Ethan safely out.
An independent team of investigators will beÂ brought in from Washington, DC, once the site is deemed clear and safe by theÂ FBI’s bomb disposal experts.
Sheriff Olson would say only that a threatÂ was perceived and that negotiations which had been ‘civil’ became ‘increasinglyÂ difficult over the past 24 hours’.
Asked if Dykes was armed when killed he saidÂ yes.
Alabama State Senator Harri Anne Smith whoÂ has been in close contact with the family throughout the ordeal said toÂ MailOnline: ‘Mom has been incredible, she has been so brave and has always knownÂ her son would be brought home safe.
”I know there will be lots of hugs andÂ kisses tonight,’ she said. ‘She has beenÂ surrounded by people praying and has had a lot of support. HerÂ father has been a rock to her and her older son and her sisters.’
Dykes was killed during the fast-actingÂ operation but law enforcement officials have yet to provide details on how heÂ died.
Federal agents jumped into action afterÂ high-tech but secret video surveillance inserted into the bunker revealed thatÂ the mental state of Richard Lee Dykes was deteriorating rapidly.
There were reports of one or two loud bangsÂ on the property, and a neighbor who lives about a quarter-mile from where DykesÂ was holed up said that he heard a boom followed by a gunshot
Another neighbor, 16-year-old Micah Senn, 16,Â who lives a few hundred yards away, told AL.com that he heard an explosionÂ followed by four to five rounds of gunfire.
The boy identified all week only as Ethan wasÂ brought out from the bunker on Dykes’ property appearing to be physicallyÂ unharmed and is being treated at a hospital in nearby Dothan authorities said.
Friends of the family have said that EthanÂ has Asperger’s Syndrome – a condition which has been likened to a minor form ofÂ autism and which affects a person’s ability to interact with otherÂ people.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve RichardsonÂ said during a news conference this afternoon that negotiations had broken downÂ during the day and Dykes had been seen to grab a gun.
Those actions forced the hand of FBI agents,Â who entered the bunker.
Agent Richardson said: ‘At approximatelyÂ 3.12pm, FBI agents safely recovered the child who was being held hostage forÂ nearly a week.
‘Within the past 24 hours negotiationsÂ deteriorated and Mr Dykes was observed holding a gun.
‘At this point FBI agents fearing the childÂ was in imminent danger entered the bunker and rescued the child.
‘The child appears physically unharmed and isÂ being treated at a local hospital. The subject is deceased.
‘The resolution of the matter is a directÂ result of the extraordinary collaboration of law enforcement at allÂ levels.’
CBSÂ correspondents John Miller and Bob OrrÂ confirmed the FBI’s RescueÂ Hostage Team carried out the rescue when it wasÂ clear the kidnapper’sÂ mental state was deteriorating — and he beganÂ brandishing a gun.
Source: The Daily Mail
What is Aspergers Syndrome? How was Ethan’s ability to interactÂ impaired?
Aspergers syndrome is a form of autism whichÂ leaves sufferers fazed with significant difficulties in social interaction,Â along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior andÂ interests.
The result is that theyÂ can have difficulty coping with mixing socially, working in certain kinds ofÂ jobs and developing communication skills. They may have problems withÂ coordinating movements making them appear clumsy.
UnlikeÂ autism there are no significant delays in language development, people haveÂ normal intellect and have normal abilities to help themselves. They can adapt toÂ different situations providing these do not rely on socialÂ interaction.
Asperger’s syndromeÂ appears to be more prevalent in males. It seems to start later than autism or atÂ least is recognised later. Most children are diagnosed between five and nineÂ years of age. There may be a close relative with a similarÂ disorder.
Although speechÂ development is not delayed there is a tendency to lapse into long detailed talkÂ about topics which may not appear interesting to theÂ listener.
Children with Asperger’sÂ may be solitary and emotionally detached, unable to enjoy joining in ‘give andÂ take’ games or group activities with other children.
AlthoughÂ they may appear on the surface to be imaginative and creative they may tend toÂ become obsessed with one particular system of ideas, which may dominate theirÂ activities and thoughts for many months or years at a time.
If they are lucky this behaviour will simply beÂ regarded as quirky eccentricities by peers. Unfortunately some children withÂ Asperger’s syndrome can be mercilessly teased.
ItÂ is not easy to diagnose Asperger’s syndrome. Children may be wrongly diagnosedÂ with other neurological disorders such a Tourette’s syndrome orÂ autism.