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Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 05:56 AM

Standoff: Ala. gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

By PHILLIP RAWLS
The Associated Press

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — A gunman holed up in a bunker with a 5-year-old hostage kept law officers at bay Wednesday in an all-night, all-day standoff that began when he killed a school-bus driver and dragged the boy away, authorities said.

SWAT teams took up positions around the gunman’s rural property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartner’s safe release.

The gunman, identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, a retired truck driver, 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 stepping on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.

He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.

The standoff along a red-dirt road began Tuesday afternoon, after a gunman boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in Midland City, population 2,300. Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 5-year-old child. The gunman then took the boy away.

“As far as we know there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation,” said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort the traumatized children after the attack.

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

Authorities gave no details on the standoff, and it was unclear if Dykes made any demands from his underground bunker, which resembled a tornado shelter.

State Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy’s family, said the bunker had food and electricity, and the youngster was watching TV. He said authorities were communicating with the gunman, but he had no details on how.

At one point, authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said.

Gunman kills 1, injures 2 at Phoenix office complex

PHOENIX — A gunman opened fire in a Phoenix office complex Wednesday, killing one person, wounding two others and setting off a manhunt. Police warned the public that he was “armed and dangerous.”

Authorities identified the suspect as Arthur Douglas Harmon, 70, who they said opened fire at the end of a mediation session in a business dispute. They identified the man who died as Steve Singer, 48.

Police said a 43-year-old man was in critical condition and a 32-year-old woman had non-life-threatening injuries.

“We believe the two men were the targets,” said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman. He said Harmon fled in a car.

The Associated Press






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