Jimmy Lee Dykes, the retired Alabama trucker who allegedly shot a school bus driver last week and has held a 5-year-old boy hostage in his underground bunker for seven days, had 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.
"The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and [Dykes] said, 'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus," Tarrica said. "He just tried to back up and reverse and [Dykes] pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan."
Drones are flying over the homemade underground bunker this morning near Midland City, Ala., where police say Dykes is holding Ethan hostage. Officials have not released the boy's last name.
Despite days of negotiations, police say they have little to go on. Dykes, 65, has made few demands, and they still have no motive for his actions, or any sense of when the standoff might end.
"It gives them more time to study this bunker," former FBI profiler and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said. "Does Mr. Dykes have any explosives? Has he booby trapped the doors if ever they tried to get in?"
Negotiators have been communicating with Dykes through a ventilation pipe that leads to the bunker, and have used it to send the child comfort items, including a red Hot Wheels car, coloring books, cheese crackers, potato chips and medicine.
Dykes is 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.
At a news conference this weekend, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson surprised many when he thanked Dykes.
"I want to thank him for taking care of our child, that is very important," Olson said Saturday.
On Sunday, the tight-knit Midland City community buried bus driver Chuck Poland, who died protecting the children from Dykes. Hundreds came out to the funeral as they prayed for Ethan.
Cindy Steiner, who lives next door to Ethan, said his mother is worried and just wants her "loving little boy" home safe.
"Because Ethan being autistic, he has behavior problems, and she doesn't want him to get in one of those moods where he's uncontrollable," Steiner told ABC News. "She's scared what would happen."
Steiner said she had a message for Ethan.
"Hang tough, little man," she said. "We love you. We are praying for you."