orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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February 5, 2013

Small Ala. town: Relief that child hostage is safe

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. — A five-year-old boy was back with his ecstatic family and playing with his toy dinosaur after his nearly week-long ordeal as a hostage in an underground bunker was ended by a sudden police raid and the death of his kidnapper.

The FBI and other law enforcement officials left plenty of questions open about how they made the call to rush in and what happened inside the closet-sized hideout on a rural Alabama property, where the boy had been held by Jimmy Lee Dykes. But relatives said there was no question about the relief they feel.

"If I could, I would do cartwheels all the way down the road," the boy's great-aunt, Debra Cook, told ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday. "We'd all been walking around in a fog."

She said the boy was happy and playing with his old toys, including a dinosaur. "He was having the biggest time," Cook said.

After FBI agents determined that talks with an increasingly agitated Dykes were breaking down, they stormed the shelter Monday afternoon and freed the kindergartner. The 65-year-old armed captor was killed by law enforcement agents, an official told The Associated Press.

Almost a week after Dykes was accused of fatally shooting a school bus driver on Jan. 29 and grabbing the child from among a busload of students, authorities were undertaking an extensive investigation of the standoff site — some 100 acres in Midland City where Dykes had built his bunker.

An official in Midland City, citing information from law enforcement, said police had shot Dykes. The official requested anonymity because the official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the investigation into the case that had captured national attention.

But federal authorities were tight-lipped about specifics of how they ended the standoff.

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