Alabama hostage situation ends after seven days; hostage taker killed

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. - A 5-year-old boy is safe after being held hostage in an Alabama bunker for about seven days.

The FBI said negotiations had deteriorated over the past 24 hours and that the hostage taker, 65-year-old Jim Dykes, was "observed holding a gun."

"FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker."

Dykes is now dead, the FBI also said.

Before the news conference Monday, an ambulance that had been parked near the scene could be seen driving away. However, it was not clear if anyone was inside, and the vehicle did not have its sirens or emergency lights on.

Daryle Hendry, who lives about a quarter-mile from where Dykes was holed up, says he heard a boom followed by a gunshot this afternoon. It was not immediately known what may have caused the noise.

The standoff began on Tuesday afternoon, after Dykes boarded a stopped school bus filled with children in the town of Midland City, population 2,300. Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver when he refused to hand over a 5-year-old child. The gunman then took the boy away.

The police chief of the adjacent town of Pinckard, James Arrington, says that the two were in a bunker that's about 4 feet underground and has about 6-by-8 feet of floor space.

Dykes was known around the neighborhood as a menacing figure who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.