Ala. bunker builder called bad neighbor

Feb. 2, 2013 at 11:28 AM
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MIDLAND CITY, Ala., Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Rural Alabama neighbors of the gunman holding a child hostage in an underground bunker said he was a dangerous crank who said he has no problem using violence.

Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, remained holed up on his property near Midland City with his 5-year-old hostage Saturday while police tried to negotiate with him by speaking through a narrow ventilation pipe.

Dykes was described as a retired trucker and military veteran. He is accused of gunning down a school bus driver Jan. 29 and taking the little boy off the bus with him.

People who know Dykes said he brought a belligerent attitude with him when he came to the neighborhood five years ago and repeatedly threatened to shoot any person or animal that strayed on to his property.

"I cannot even fathom the whys or anything like that," neighbor Ronda Wilbur told "I know that he has totally and completely no regard for human life, or any sort of life."

Wilbur said Dykes was often seen patrolling his property with a gun in the middle of the night, and he allegedly beat her dog to death with a pipe after it crossed to his side of the road.

Neighbors have said Dykes constructed his bunker meticulously over the years and seemed to be anticipating an eventual clash with the authorities.

"I had always figured he was more or less a wacko survivalist, but it's obvious that he had this very well thought out and arranged," Wilbur said.

A memorial service was held Saturday for the slain bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland, the New York Daily News said.

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