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Morning Express with Robin Meade

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Day 3: Underground bunker hostage standoff

  • Witnesses: 5-year-old boy was taken off bus by gunman Tuesday
  • Family says they do not know kidnapper
  • Bus driver being called a 'hero' for saving 21 others

The standoff between police and a man is holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker in Midland City, Alabama, continues.

Police say the suspect, who neighbors and local media have identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, took the boy off a bus Tuesday afternoon. He's also accused of shooting and killing the bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland Jr.  Officials have credited Poland with saving the lives of 21 other children on board. The Dale County School Superintendent calls the slain bus driver a hero, releasing the following statement to HLN:

"Today, we are extending our hearts and prayers for the safe return of one our students and we are mourning a hero, 66-year-old Charles Poland, who gave his life to protect 21 students who are now home safely with their families."

The young hostage was apparently not hurt in the shooting. He may have passed out on the bus from the commotion, and that may be how Dykes was able to take him.

Alabama State Rep. Steve Clouse, who is in contact with the boy's family, says the child takes daily medication for Aspergers Syndrome and ADHD. Authorities were able to send his meds and coloring books into the bunker through a pipe. 

Clouse said he has been told that the bunker has electricity and television, which is why HLN is no longer showing any images of authorities at the scene.

The mother of the boy is asking people to pray. According to Clouse, she does not know her son's kidnapper.

Dykes apparently had a court hearing scheduled for a menacing charge over a different incident in December. But it is unclear what, if any, role that plays in this situation.

We have learned that Dykes is 65 years old and served in the Vietnam war. Neighbors say he has been working on the underground bunker for some time and may have enough food stored down there to last several months. 

Stay with HLN and Morning Express with Robin Meade for updates on this breaking story as they come in.

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