5 years pass since Midland City hostage crisis that gripped the nation

Jimmie Lee Dykes held a boy named Ethan in an underground bunker in Midland City, Alabama for...
Jimmie Lee Dykes held a boy named Ethan in an underground bunker in Midland City, Alabama for nearly a week. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Updated: Jan. 29, 2018 at 7:36 AM CST
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Charles "Chuck" Poland, Jr. was shot and killed while trying to protect children on his school...
Charles "Chuck" Poland, Jr. was shot and killed while trying to protect children on his school bus Jan. 29, 2013. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Poland's bus was removed from the scene on Friday, Feb. 2, 2013. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Poland's bus was removed from the scene on Friday, Feb. 2, 2013. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MIDLAND CITY, AL (WSFA) - Monday marks five years since the start of the Midland City hostage crisis that played out with news coverage across the world focused on a small southeast Alabama town.

The situation started the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, when 65-year-old Jimmie Lee Dykes, a disturbed man, boarded a Dale County school bus with a demand he be able to take two children. Dykes ended up taking just one child, a 6-year-old boy named Ethan.

In the process of kidnapping the child, Dykes shot the driver, Charles "Chuck" Poland, Jr. at least four times. Poland died from his injuries.

Another student, 15, called 911 while the drama unfolded.

"He took the kid off the bus," the teen told the dispatcher.

"Is the bus driver the only person that was shot?" the dispatcher asked.

"Yes," the teen responded.

"Hang in there honey, you're doing so good, I'm so proud of you," the dispatcher encouraged.

As law enforcement fled toward the scene, Dykes took Ethan hostage and fled with him to a nearby underground bunker he'd created on his property. The bunker, which the FBI later described as being not very large but with room for a bunk bed, featured PVC pipe for ventilation and communication.

The nation waited anxiously for any sign the child would be released, but hours turned to days.

Still, federal agents were committed to waiting Dykes out as long as there was an open line of communication. Six days passed without much outward movement. Authorities even praised the troubled man that weekend for taking care of his child hostage, saying Dykes gave the boy things sent into the bunker by authorities including a red HotWheels car and Cheez-Its crackers.

Then, the situation began to deteriorate.

"Just as I said today, by the end of this *****day, there's going to be a determination as to whether or not, you will ever be sitting at that desk again," Dykes said in a profanity-laced call to negotiators. "You just send some *****down that funnel up there to their death."

Dykes' change in tone prompted the team to accelerate their efforts. On Monday afternoon, almost a week after Ethan was taken hostage, the team made its move, storming the bunker and freeing the child a daring attempt that also resulted in Dykes' death.

Following the crisis, the bunker was dismantled.

Today, we're talking to some of the people involved in the standoff situation and will share their thoughts on the anniversary.

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