Alabama Hostage Situation Ends, Child is Safe - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Alabama Hostage Situation Ends, Child is Safe

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After nearly a week, a tense hostage situation in Midland City, Alabama is over. Officials say the five year old hostage is safe and the suspect is dead.

Last Tuesday's shooting on a Dale County, Alabama school bus is still fresh in students minds.

"Everyone thought it was an act, but when we saw him get shot and not come up, then we were scared to death," said Terrica Singletary, a student who was one the bus the afternoon of the shooting. "We thought he was going to come back and get a rifle and come back, so we just ran out the front door."

Police say the suspect, identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, shot and killed the bus driver, Charles Poland, before kidnapping one of the children from the bus.

"When we saw him get taken, we were freaking out because we were like 'Oh my God, Mr. Poland got shot. This boy got taken, and we just had to run out'," said Singletary. 

Dykes took the five year-old hostage, holding him in an underground bunker. Negotiations with Dykes continued for six days, but on Monday FBI officials were forced to take action.

"Within the past 24 hours negotiations deteriorated. Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun at this point. FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child," said Steve Richardson, an FBI field agent, at a press conference Monday afternoon.

With the child safe and the suspect dead, the community of Midland City, AL. is breathing easier Monday night.

"It's just a burden lifted off everyone's shoulders," says Steve Clouse, an Alabama State Representative for District 93. "This whole... area came together; the whole state did. It gravitated across the nation."

As school safety remains a top concern, local representatives say there is new ground to tackle.

"We formed a school safety commission in the Legislature after the Newtown, CT shooting, and of course, now we have this incident with the school bus. It adds a new dimension to it, and it's something we certainly have got to look at," says Clouse. 

The child has been taken to a local hospital and can now be home with loved ones to celebrate his birthday which is on Wednesday.