MIDLAND CITY, Ala.: The man who held a 5-year-old boy captive for nearly a week engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents storming his underground bunker before he was killed during the rescue operation, the FBI said Tuesday night. Also, bomb technicians scouring the property found two explosive devices, one in the bunker, the other in a plastic pipe negotiators used to communicate with the man.
Officers killed 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes Monday, said a law enforcement official in Midland City, speaking on condition of anonymity. The bunker raid came six days after Dykes boarded a school bus, fatally shot the driver and abducted the boy, who by all accounts was unharmed.
The official who confirmed that officers killed Dykes requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation.
Despite his ordeal, the 5-year-old appeared to be acting like a normal kid, people around him said. He was running around, playing with a toy dinosaur and other action figures, eating a turkey sandwich and watching SpongeBob SquarePants, relatives and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said.
“We know he’s OK physically, but we don’t know how he is mentally,” Betty Jean Ransbottom, the boy’s grandmother, said Tuesday. She added that she feared the ordeal would stay with the child, who turns 6 today, the rest of his life.
An FBI agent had been staying with the family, and relatives learned of the child’s rescue after another agent at the scene called the person who was with them.
The family was relieved and grateful for all the support in a community where ribbons, fliers and vigils all symbolized the prayers for the safe return of the boy, whom law enforcement officials have identified by his first name, Ethan.
The boy’s mother, in a statement released by the FBI, expressed her thanks for all the hard work of so many officers to bring her son home. The woman declined to be identified, the statement said.
“For the first time in almost a week, I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight … my sweet boy,” she said.