MIDLAND CITY, Ala. – The man who held a 5-year-old boy captive for nearly a week engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents storming his underground bunker before he was killed during the rescue operation, the FBI said Tuesday night.
Also, bomb technicians scouring the property found two explosive devices, one in the bunker, the other in a plastic pipe negotiators used to communicate with the man.
The bunker raid came six days after 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded a school bus, fatally shot the driver and abducted the boy, who by all accounts was unharmed.
Dykes reinforced the bunker against any attempted entry by law enforcement, FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said in an email. The devices found were disrupted, Pack said, though he did not say whether that meant they were detonated or disarmed.
Officers will continue to sweep the 100-acre property today, and when they finish, investigators can more thoroughly investigate, Pack said.
For days, officers passed food, medicine, toys and other items into the bunker, which was similar to a tornado shelter and apparently had running water, heat and cable television.
On Monday, authorities said Dykes had a gun and appeared increasingly agitated, though it’s unclear exactly how his behavior changed. Agents stormed the bunker, whisking the boy to safety and leaving Dykes dead. The official who confirmed that officers killed Dykes requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak about the investigation.
Pack declined to get into specifics, but confirmed that high-tech surveillance equipment was used during the police standoff.
By all accounts, despite his ordeal, the 5-year-old appeared to be acting like a normal kid, people around him say. He was running around, playing with a toy dinosaur and other action figures, eating a turkey sandwich and watching SpongeBob SquarePants, relatives and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said.
We know he’s OK physically, but we don’t know how he is mentally, Betty Jean Ransbottom, the boy’s grandmother, told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
She added that she feared the ordeal would stay with the child, who turns 6 today, the rest of his life.