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Alabama Hostage Standoff Ends With Child Safe, Gunman Dead

posted 4 Feb 2013, 16:21 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 4 Feb 2013, 16:21 ]

A neighbor says his wife and son heard an "explosion" near the location of the hostage standoff in Alabama.

 MIDLAND CITYALABAMAUNITED STATES (FEBRUARY 4, 2013) (REUTERS) - A gunman who held a five-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker in rural Alabama for nearly a week was killed on Monday (February 4) and the child was plucked to safety without injury, law enforcement officials said.

Neighbor Michael Senn said his wife and son heard an "explosion" and called him immediately.

"We hate it of course that it had to end you know with a tragedy as far as Mr. Dykes' life. When my wife and son heard the explosion they knew immediately something had taken place and they got on the phone and called me and I came straight home. Because we knew that you know, we didn't know what exactly had taken place but we knew something serious had taken place. And we just, we're just so thankful that the young child who was innocent in this situation got out of safe as far as we know at this time. And is being reunited with his family. I can just imagine his family is just overfilled with joy and all types of emotions at this very moment getting to see this little boy again," he said.

FBI agents entered the bunker to rescue the child after fearing that he was in "imminent danger," said Steve Richardson, special agent in charge in Mobile

Negotiations with the suspect, identified as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, had deteriorated during the previous 24 hours, Richardson said during a televised news conference.

"Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," the FBI agent said.

The rescue of the boy came on the seventh day of a standoff in a rural corner ofsoutheast Alabama involving Dykes, a retired trucker and veteran of the war in Vietnam.

The child was being treated at a local hospital, but was physically unharmed, Richardson added. It was not immediately clear how Dykes died.

Dykes seized the kindergarten student last Tuesday after boarding a school bus near his home and killing its driver with four shots from a 9 mm handgun, local sheriff's department officials said.

A local law enforcement source said a stun or flash grenade was detonated as part of the operation to free the boy, but further details were not immediately released.

The drama near Midland CityAlabama, came amid heightened concerns about gun violence and school safety across the United States after the December shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut elementary school.