The stand-off that kept the nation enthralled for the last seven days has come to an end. Jimmy Lee Dykes, the 65-year old man who had taken a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker on his property is dead, and the boy is safe, The Huffington Post reports.
The situation began when Dykes boarded a stopped school bus and demanded that he be allowed to take two boys between ages 6 and 8. Charles Albert Poland, Jr., the courageous bus driver who tried to shield the children in his charge from Dykes, lost his life that day for his bravery, as Dykes shot him several times when Poland got between him and the boy who would become his hostage from the bus.
Authorities had been in hostage negotiations talks with Dykes since January 29th, the day he took his hostage and hunkered down with the child inside his homemade subterranean survivalist bunker. The authorities were able to deliver medication, snacks, and toys to the bunker for the kidnapped boy during said negotiations, though it remained unclear what Dykes hoped to accomplish with his actions.
Earlier this afternoon, there was a hasty roadside conference on the matter, and authorities entered the bunker at approximately 3 P.M., fearing the boy might be in “imminent danger” because Dykes was brandishing a firearm. There were reports of an explosion, soon followed by reports that Dykes was dead.
According to locals, Dykes was a paranoid man who possibly had weeks worth of supplies in his bunker. Reportedly, the sounds of right wing talk radio could be heard from his home, which seemingly fueled his anti-government views. He was obsessed with protecting his property, and is said to have once beaten a dog to death with a steel pipe. There were also multiple accusations of his threatening to shoot children for entering his property.
Dykes was also arrested in December for allegedly shooting a gun to frighten a neighbor. He was a decorated Vietnam War veteran who obviously had serious mental health issues fed by a constant stream of paranoid anti-government ideology. These are the sorts of people who should never be allowed firearms. There was tragedy here, and potential for more, all because a paranoid, mentally ill man had access to weapons.
We can only be grateful that the little boy, Ethan, made it out alive, and hope that not too much psychological damage has been inflicted on the child.
Ethan will turn six years old tomorrow, and that may be all thanks to the authorities deciding to bring the stand-off to an end today.