Kindergartener Hostage Situation Enters Third Day

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 31 2013 10:50 AM

The Kindergartener Hostage Situation in Alabama Is Now in Its Third Day

A standoff between police and a 65-year-old man who is holding a kindergartener hostage in an underground bunker in rural Alabama is now in its third day, and there have been few outward signs that the situation will come to an end any time soon. The Associated Press with the scene on the ground:

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

A normally quiet dirt road was teeming with activity around the siege that began late Tuesday. At least a dozen police cars and trucks, a fire truck, a helicopter, officers from multiple agencies, media and at least one ambulance crowded the stretch where the dead-end residential road branches off a U.S. highway near Midland City, population 2,300. A staging area for law enforcement was lit by bright lights overnight.

The whole thing began Tuesday when Jimmy Lee Dykes, a retired truck driver, boarded a stopped school bus and shot and killed the 66-year-old driver after he refused Dykes' demand for two boys between the ages of 6 and 8 years old, according to police. Dykes then grabbed the child and fled to the bunker, where he remains. As downright terrifying as the words "underground bunker" may sound, reports suggest it may be a relatively run-of-the-mill tornado shelter, which are pretty common in the area. It is also reportedly stocked with food and equipped with electricity. But while the location may not be as scary as it originally sounded, that's not necessarily a good thing in the long run: According to ABC News, authorities believe that Dykes likely has enough food and water to stay holed up in the by bunker "for weeks." Even more troubling is the picture of Dykes that has emerged. The AP:

The gunman ... was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure 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 good news is that authorities say they have no reason to suspect that the child has been harmed. He's said to be biding his time by watching television, and Dykes recently agreed to allow police to lower down the boy's medicine, which is naturally being seen as a promising sign for the child's safety. As far as police can tell, Dykes has no relation to the boy. As for a reason for his motivation, the best anyone's come up with so far is the fact that he was due in court yesterday to face a charge of menacing his neighbors with a gun as they drove by his house a few weeks ago.

It's worth pointing out that this is still (obviously) a developing situation, and, as we've learned in the past, that means that some of the details currently being provided by authorities may not hold up in the long run. For instance, initial reports described the child as a 5-year-old, but since then there have been a smattering of reports identifying the hostage as being 6 years old.

***Follow @JoshVoorhees and the rest of the @slatest team on Twitter.***

This post was updated at 10:58 a.m. with additional information.


Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.