According to NBC News, - As residents of Midland City, Ala., Tuesday celebrated the freeing of a 5-year-old Alabama boy held hostage for nearly a week, details emerged about the daring operation that freed him.
A law enforcement source close to the investigation confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday that federal agents practiced their intricate rescue plans not far from where the kidnapper, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, held the little boy.
Before storming the underground shelter where Dykes held the boy on Monday, the agents built a mock bunker nearby where they prepared over the prior six days, according to a law enforcement official close to the investigation.
Police had been in regular contact with Dykes since he took the young boy, identified only as Ethan, into the homemade bunker last Tuesday.
But hope for a peaceful end to the standoff came to an end when negotiators began to fear that Dykes might pose an immediate threat to the young boy.
“Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Richardson said at a press conference after the standoff ended. “At this point, FBI agents; fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child.”
Law enforcement officials have said they even managed to sneak a camera into the roughly 8 feet by 6 feet bunker where Dykes holed up, but have declined to say how.
“It’s a technique we may want to use again, so we’re not being specific,” an official told NBC News.
Local paper the Dothan Eagle reported two loud blasts after 3 p.m.
An FBI source confirmed to NBC News on Monday that the blast was a “diversionary device” – a flashbang explosive that gave them time to breach the bunker through a door at the top at 3:12 p.m.
The boy emerged unharmed, according to officials, but the man who authorities say abducted him was dead at the scene.
Whether Dykes died from a lawman’s bullet, a self-inflicted gunshot wound, or from the flashbang, somehow, law enforcement officials would not say on Tuesday, pending autopsy results to determine the cause of his death.
And why Dykes decided to storm a school bus and take a hostage in the first place remained unclear to investigators.
President Obama offered his thanks to the FBI on Monday night.