Within hours after an armed, angry man shot a school bus driver and kidnapped a 5-year-old boy, workers feverishly unloaded boxes packed with percussive grenades, military C-4 explosives and an array of guns from a windowless DC-9 that had landed just miles from the suspect’s isolated compound.
Helmeted officers decked out in tan fatigues, camouflage and body armor, many carrying long guns, rumbled in rented cargo trucks to and from the property in southeastern Alabama where 65-year-old Jim Lee Dykes and his young captive were hunkered down in a roughly 6-by-8-foot hand-dug bunker with only one small hatch for an entryway.
Two Humvees belonging to the Dale County Sheriff’s Department and a tan, military-style personnel carrier were parked in a field beside the bunker throughout much of the ordeal, along with sport-utility vehicles. Officers dressed in combat-style gear could be seen watching the bunker from an opening in the roof of the tan personnel vehicle.
And as the standoff stretched into days, drones flew large, lazy circles high above the scene at night.
In many ways, the scene resembled more of a war-time situation than a domestic crime scene as civilian law enforcement relied heavily on military tactics and equipment to end the six-day ordeal.
The raid on the bunker was carried out by the FBI’s hostage response team, which serves as the agency’s full-time counterterrorism unit, Pack said Wednesday. Trained in military tactics and outfitted with combat-style gear and weapons, the group was formed 30 years ago in preparation for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
According to a U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, about a dozen active-duty Navy Seabees – sailors who belong to special naval construction units – helped law-enforcement authorities build a replica of Dykes’ bunker so they could practice an assault. They then negotiated Dykes into a sense of security and even snuck a camera into the shelter.