When 66-year-old bus driver Charles Albert Polson, Jr. (Chuck) began his afternoon run on Tuesday, January 29, 2013 he was already a well-known and highly regarded resident of Dale County, Alabama. Before that run was completed, Chuck had placed himself in harm’s way to protect the kids he loved.
Poland had just dropped off two children at their home when 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes stepped aboard the bus and grabbed the door so it could not be closed. Dykes demanded Poland to release two boys between the ages of 6 and 8, but gave no reason. When Dykes tried to move to the aisle of the bus, Chuck tried to block him with his arm. Dykes fired four shots at him with a handgun. Chuck died of his injuries.
Dykes then removed an unidentified 5-year-old boy from the bus and took him to an underground bunker on his nearby property which he had apparently been constructing for years. The bunker has been likened to those used against tornadoes, is 4 feet wide, 6 feet long, about 8 feet deep and covered in sand.
Dykes is said to have anti-America views and has ties to the anti-government survivalist movement. His friends and neighbors stated he is a Vietnam-era veteran, has PTSD, is standoffish and has had little or no contact with anyone.
Police records show Dykes was arrested in Panama City, Florida in February 1995. He was charged with a misdemeanor count of improper exhibition of dangerous weapons or firearms. That charge was dismissed four months later.
Dykes was supposed to appear in court at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, January 30th for threatening to shoot neighbor Mike Smith’s children when their family dog went onto Dykes' property. Dale County Sheriff’s deputies arrested him on December 22, 2012 for a complaint filed on December 10th. He spent four days in jail prior to posting his $500 bail.
Communicating with authorities through a PVC pipe, Dykes let authorities know he had food, electricity, blankets and an electric heater in the bunker. He also indicated the boy was spending time watching television. Dykes has allowed authorities to deliver coloring books, medication and toys for the boy.
Visitation services for Poland were set for Saturday evening. The funeral for this beloved school bus driver turned hero was Sunday afternoon. Most everyone from the town of Newton was expected to attend either the visitation or the funeral.
Meanwhile, police and emergency personnel remain near Dyke’s underground bunker. Not only is a community grieving the loss of the man who gave his life to protect his children, they are praying for the safe return of the 5-year-old hostage. As a nation, we should join them.