5-year-old boy held hostage for 6th day

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson speaks on morning TV and thanks the hostage-taker for recent cooperation in negotiations involving a five-year-old boy, February 3, 2013.

The hostage situation of a five-year-old boy has entered its sixth day as police reveal information on the suspect and continue negotiations.

On Sunday, police said Jim Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old US war veteran, got on the school bus in southern Alabama’s Midland City around 3:40 p.m. local time (2040 GMT) on Tuesday, and demanded for two boys aged between 6 and 8 years old.

According to police, the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, was driving 21 children home at the time and tried to stop the hostage-taker from abducting children. However, Dykes shot the 66-year-old four times who died in the process.

All but one child managed to escape through the bus’ back door. Dyke took a 5-year-old boy into captivity in an underground bunker in his residence, situated behind a church.

Police on the scene communicate with Dyke through a 60-foot connecting ventilation pipe.

The boy, called Ethan, whose mother says has Asperger’s syndrome – a mild form of autism – and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), received some medical care given by police through the pipe.

Police stepped up negotiations with Dykes and managed to secure medicine, toys, coloring blocks, and potato chips to the kindergartener. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said Dykes has told them they have an electric heater and blankets in the single-entrance bunker.

The motives and demands of Dyke, who fought for five years in the Vietnam War, remains unclear and police say they can only release a limited amount of information on the situation.

The shooting incident is yet another episode of the persisting gun violence across the US as the December 14 elementary school shooting massacre of 20 children and six school staff in the state of Connecticut has yet to result in any meaningful federal measures in terms of gun controls.