The retired Alabama trucker who shot a school bus driver and is now holding a kindergarten student in an underground bunker was scheduled to be in court Wednesday to answer for allegedly shooting at his neighbors in a dispute over a damaged speed bump.
Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, has been holed up in a 6 by 8 foot bunker 4 feet underground with a 5-year-old autistic boy named Ethan since Tuesday, when he boarded a school bus and asked for two 6 to 8 year old boys. School bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot several times by Dykes, and died trying to protect the children.
Police said that they do not think that Dykes had any connection to Ethan, and that SWAT teams and police are negotiating with Dykes.
"I could tell you that negotiators continue to communicate with the suspect and that there's no reason to believe the child has been harmed," Sheriff Wally Olson said late Thursday.
Dykes' neighbor Claudia Davis told The Associated Press that he had yelled at her and fired his gun at her, her son James Davis, Jr. and her baby grandson after he claimed their truck caused damage to a speed bump in the dirt road near his property. No one was hurt, but Davis, Jr. told the AP that he believes the shooting and kidnapping are connected to the scheduled court hearing.
"I believe he thought I was going to be in court and he was going to get more charges than the menacing, which he deserved, and he had a bunch of stuff to hide and that's why he did it," he said.
This was not Dykes' only run-in with people in the neighborhood, where he had come to be known as a menacing figure. Neighbor Ronda Wilbur told the AP that Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe when it entered the side of the dirt rode his trailer sits on. Wilbur said her dog died a week later.
Early last year, two pit bulls belonging to neighbors Mike and Patricia Smith escaped and got into his yard. Patricia Smith said that Dykes threatened to shoot her children when they went to retrieve them.
Neighbor Ronda Wilbur said that Dykes would be seen on his property at all hours of the day.
"It could be 2 o'clock in the morning, it could be midnight. He was out there either digging or moving dirt," she said.
As the underground standoff moved into its fourth day, tensions grow in this small community near Midland City, Ala., which is now enveloped by SWAT teams and police.
"That's an innocent kid. Let him go back to his parents, he's crying for his parents and his grandparents and he does not know what's going on," Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper told ABC News. "Let this kid go."
Neighbor Jimmy Davis said that he has seen the bunker where Dykes has been known to hunker down for up to eight days.
"He's got steps made out of cinder blocks going down to it, Davis said. "It's lined with those red bricks all in it."
Police say he may have enough supplies to last him weeks.
Former FBI profiler and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said there's a distinct reason why authorities are keeping details about Dykes under wraps.
"One of reasons they are keeping negations closed and not releasing his picture, is to try to insulate the situation, so they don't have a situation where they don't have to deal with his anger and rage," he said.
Meanwhile, children are trying to understand why this happened to their friend
"He always comes up to my house to play," 10-year-old Trisha Beaty told ABC News. "I miss him. I miss him a lot."