However, being the magnet for weirdness that I am, I passed through the small town near Dothan, Alabama where the current kidnapping/shooting took place. I mentioned it on my Disney trip blog, Big Mike Does Disney.
I’m not an expert on this event, but since I saw the aftermath, I’ve been following it slightly. Information has been hard to come by down here in Central Florida, but I’ve been looking online when I’m not flat out exhausted from Disney. This is not a definitive report by any means, sourced entirely from articles on the internet, but it’s what I’ve learned.
To begin with, there isn’t much “new” being reported since the first day. As I write this, the stand off is in day six, and there has been no new developments. In fact, the morning news conference was postponed because there has been nothing new developing in the situation. For six days the bad guy has had a five year old child held hostage in a bunker he spent the better part of a year building.
Here’s what I’ve found out. According to various reports, Jimmy Lee Dykes, a former truck driver in Dale County, Alabama, has been accused of stoping a school bus taking children home and demanding the bus driver give him one of the children. From all reports, he wanted a random child, and was not targeting a specific child.
When the bus driver refused, Dykes allegedly shot the driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., multiple times and fatally wounding the 66 year old bus driver. In my opinion, the word Hero has been a little slow in coming describing Poland. Any human who stands between children and a madman with a gun is a hero to me.
After the shooting, the kids on the bus are reported to have run to a nearby church for shelter and protection. The exception being a small five year old boy who reportedly fainted from the commotion and was allegedly kidnapped by Dykes. Dykes is then reported to have taken the boy to an underground bunker he’s been building over the last year. The area around Highway 231 where the shooting and kidnapping took place was closed for several hours.
We drove through on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, a few hours after the shooting and after 231 had been reopened. The school bus, being a crime scene, was still there and not removed until Friday, February 1, 2013. The church was filled with people holding vigil and hoping, in vain, for a quick resolution.
Very little information has been released by anyone concerning the child taken. No one has been able to establish a connection between Dykes and the child that has been identified as Ethan by those in the community and (according to a state senator interviewed on the Today Show) “Love Bug.” Some outlets have reported that the child suffers from Aspergers, a form of Autism. I respect several of the sources I’ve heard this from, and while I hope they are all wrong, I fear they are all true.
Every report from the Authorities indicate that Dykes is providing the child with the items the child has requested, such as coloring books and potato chips. The Authorities are communicating with Dykes via an air vent in the bunker and have repeatedly thanked Dykes publicly for taking good care of the child. It’s unknown if such thanks are semi-sincere or to appease Dykes who may be monitoring the broadcasts.
There is also a story reported by neighbors about Dykes and Poland having a conversation the day before the shooting. The content of that conversation is currently unknown, but Poland is reported to have brought Dykes a gift of eggs and marmalade the day of the shooting.
Until there is a resolution, I doubt much more will be known. I did see a report that Dykes was arrested on December 22, 2012 and spent a few days in jail while posting a $500 bond. I’ve not seen that report repeated so don’t know if it is accurate. That report included that the day of the shooting/kidnapping Dykes was due in court over that arrest, but I haven’t seen that repeated since Thursday.
That sums up what I know and think I know about this case. I hope it is resolved quickly.