A week-long standoff in Alabama, where a retired trucker held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker, has ended with the kidnapper dead and the child safe, according to law enforcement.
With a SWAT team positioned near the bunker entrance, authorities used an explosive charge to help gain entry into the bunker and neutralize the suspect, Richard Lee Dykes, according to a law enforcement source with direct knowledge.
Officials had been able to insert a high-tech camera into the bunker to monitor Dykes' movements, and they had become increasingly concerned that he might act out, the source said.
"FBI agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson said at a news conference.
The agent said negotiations with Dykes "deteriorated" in the past 24 hours.
"Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun," Richardson said. "At this point, the FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child."
The boy, identified only as Ethan, "appears physically unharmed" and is being treated at a hospital, authorities said.
Dykes, 65, is dead, but officials have not yet provided details on how he died.
"Right now, FBI special agent bomb technicians are in the process of clearing the property for improvised explosive devices," the FBI said in a written statement. "When it is safe to do so, our evidence response teams, paired with state and local crime scene technicians, will process the scene."
Dykes allegedly shot and killed a school bus driver last week and threatened to kill all the children on the bus before taking the boy, one of the students on the bus said.
"He said he was going to kill us, going to kill us all," Tarrica Singletary, 14, told ABC News.
Dykes had been holed up in his underground bunker near Midland City, Ala., with the abducted boy for a week as police tried to negotiate with him through a PVC pipe. Police had used the talks to send the child comfort items, including a red Hot Wheels car, coloring books, cheese crackers, potato chips and medicine.
Dykes was a decorated Vietnam vet who grew up in the area. He lived in Florida until two years ago, the AP reported, and has an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago, neighbor Michael Creel said. When he returned to Alabama, neighbors say he once beat a dog with a lead pipe and had threatened to shoot children who set foot on his property.