Alabama gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

Alabama gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators were locked in a standoff today with a gunman authorities say intercepted a school bus, killed the driver, snatched a kindergartener and retreated into a bunker at his home.

Neighbors described the gunman as a paranoid and combative man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired truck driver, was supposed to appear in court Wednesday to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute over a speed bump.

The standoff dragged on through the night and into the afternoon today after the gunman boarded a stopped school bus in the small town of Midland City on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said. Sheriff Wally Olsen said the man shot the driver when he refused to let a 6-year-old child off the bus. The gunman then took the boy away.

The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, was hailed by School Superintendent Donny Bynum as a hero who gave his life to protect 21 students.

About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered today at the end of a dirt road near Dykes’ home. Authorities gave no details on the standoff, and it was not immediately clear whether they had made contact with Dykes or he had made any demands.

Homes nearby were evacuated early in the morning after authorities found what was believed to be a bomb on his property.

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