Not much is known about the man law enforcement has described as a "survivalist type" (also known as a "doomsday prepper") that took a 6-year-old boy hostage from a school bus after shooting and killing the bus driver in Midland City, Ala., Tuesday (Jan. 29). He is presently holed up in a homemade bunker underneath a few feet of red Alabama clay with the child. What authorities do know about the man gives them reason for concern.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, according to CNN, is a 65-year-old Vietnam war veteran suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). Besides being a "doomsday prepper," he is known to have "anti-government" views and has been known to be violent towards his neighbors. In fact, he was scheduled to be in court on Wednesday to answer allegations that he had shot at his neighbor over some road modifications he had constructed.
According to neighbor Jimmy Davis, Dykes had become enraged at him when he had dug ruts into the some speed bumps he had made in the road that separated their property. Retrieving a pistol, he shot at Davis' truck twice. At the time, Davis' 6-month-old daughter was inside the truck. Luckily, nobody was injured.
Another neighbor said that her cat had been beaten to death by Dykes, who had allegedly bragged about the act. Neighbors knew of the man's dictum that any animals found on his property would be killed.
Davis said Dykes began construction on what he called a "storm shelter" a couple years ago and diligently dug into the ground every other night -- between 2 and 3 a.m. -- for a year and a half.
It is in that "shelter" that Dykes retreated with the young boy.
WSFA (Montgomery, Ala.) reports that police do not believe Dykes has harmed the boy, who apparently suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and requires daily medication. Since the standoff began, law enforcement have supplied the bunker -- through a length of PVC pipe jutting from the ground -- with the child's medication. The name of the 6-year-old has been withheld for legal and investigation reasons.
It is as yet unclear why Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded a school bus Tuesday and demanded that one or two children come with him. Dale County Sheriff's Department said that 66-year-old bus driver Charles Poland Jr. refused to allow Dykes to take the children. Interposing himself between the armed man and the children, Poland was shot at least three times and killed. Reports indicate that the word "hero" is being associated with the man and his last action.
Dykes was able to take the lone child because he reportedly fainted.
"Preppers" are part of a lunatic fringe section of the populace that, for a variety of reasons, fear either government takeover or some cataclysmic disaster that will alter the world as it is and see the drastic end of civilization as it is currently known. The movement is characterized by an obsession to prepare for the worst case scenario and sees actualization in food and weapons stockpiling and a concentration on personal and communal security.
The show "Doomsday Preppers" on National Geographic Channel highlights the movement, a somewhat secretive and apocalyptic-minded group of people whose motto seems to be that they fear nothing because they are prepared for anything. Unfortunately, the fact is that they fear a great many things and it seems to be the psychological driving force behind their obsession with "prepping."
According to neighbors, Jimmy Lee Dykes has a stockpile of food and creature comforts in his underground bunker. He has been known to stay in his homemade "storm shelter" for up to eight days on end. Given the circumstances, he might be willing to go a while longer. And he just might be able to, depending upon just how much food and water he has stored underground.
FBI hostage negotiators are on scene and are working with local law enforcement to try and end the standoff, which moved into its third day on Thursday.