Boy, 5, safe after hostage drama
The five-year-old boy held hostage in an underground bunker for six days by a gunman is recovering well from his ordeal but questions remain about how the siege was brought to an end.
Kidnapper 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes was shot dead when police stormed the bunker in Midland City, Alabama. He had kidnapped the child at random after shooting dead a school bus driver.
The boy's great uncle, Berlin Enfinger, told ABC's Good Morning America that the child was relieved to be home after his rescue a day earlier. Police said they considered the boy to be facing imminent danger when they decided to go in. "He's happy to be home, and he looks good," Mr Enfinger said.
Authorities said little about the end of the stand-off. Neighbours said they heard a bang and gunshots, but the FBI would not confirm that. Authorities also kept under wraps exactly how they were able to monitor Dykes and the boy in such a confined space.
"We have a big crime scene behind us to process," said Special Agent Steve Richardson. "I can't talk about sources, techniques or methods that we used. But I can tell you the success story is (the boy) is safe." He declined to say if the property had been rigged with explosives.
Sheriff Wally Olson said that Dykes was armed when officers entered the bunker to rescue the child. He said the boy was threatened, but declined to elaborate. "That's why we went inside - to save the child," he said. " ... It's a relief for us to be able to reunited a mother with her child."
Daryle Hendry, who lives near the bunker, said he heard a boom followed by what sounded like a gunshot. Dykes had been seen with a gun, and officers concluded the boy was in imminent danger.
After the rescue the boy was reunited with his mother and appeared to be OK. He was taken to a hospital. He has Asperger's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The rescue ended a drama that disrupted the lives of many in a tranquil town of 2,400 people, nestled amid peanut farms and cotton fields. It is a small, close-knit community that has long relied on a strong Christian faith, a policy of "love thy neighbour" and the power of group prayer.
The child's plight prompted nightly candlelight vigils. Fliers appealing for a safe end to the crisis were tucked into the chain-link fence along with ribbons at his school.