According to USA News, the 5-year-old boy who was kidnapped and held hostage in Alabama was freed Monday afternoon, after spending a week in an underground bunker with gunman Jimmy Lee Dykes, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Dykes, 65, shot schoolbus driver Chuck Poland last week after Poland tried to stop Dykes from carrying out his threat of killing all the children in the vehicle, police said. Dykes made off with an autistic 5-year-old boy, identified only as Ethan, and retreated to his underground bunker.
USA Today reported that Dykes was killed Monday after a week in which police communicated with him through a ventilation tube but failed to talk him down. Hostage negotiators were able to comfort Ethan during his six days underground by sending down medicine and treats, including coloring books, crayons, potato chips, cheese crackers and a toy car.
The child -- identified only by his first name, Ethan -- was to be reunited with his mother and grandmother at a hospital, state Sen. Harri Anne Smith said.
The legislator said she was just arriving for an afternoon visit with Ethan's mother when authorities whisked away the mother. Smith said the woman's smile, and the smiles of others, gave away the good news. The two hugged before authorities drove the mother away.
Believing the child to be in imminent danger, an FBI team entered the bunker at 3:12 p.m. CT (4:12 p.m. ET) and rescued the boy, Richardson said, adding that the hostage-taker is dead.
After the good news spread through the community, travelers on a nearby highway honked their horns as they drove by.