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Conflict & Tragedy

Standoff in Alabama continues as boy is held hostage for third day

The standoff in Alabama between law enforcement and a crazed gunman holding a 5-year-old boy hostage continues into its third day.

The child, who is said to suffer from Asperger’s syndrome and needs daily medication, is being held in an underground bunker on the remote property of 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes in Midland City. Police say the child is unharmed and is being fed and that the kidnapper has allowed them to lower medication into the bunker.

[Disclaimer: The age of the kidnapped boy was first said to be 6, but now news outlets are reporting he is 5. The gunman was initially reported to be 67; he is now said to be 65. Read my first report here.]

There is currently a massive police and FBI presence on the dirt road leading to Dykes' home, but so far they have not been able to rescue this little boy.

A local pastor, Michael Senn, told CNN on Wednesday that the kidnapper had seized a school bus, told everyone to evacuate, and then shot the driver four times as he tried to stop Dykes from taking the boy. The rest of the children ran to his church to escape, and one 13-year-old is said to be terribly traumatized because he is a friend of the child who was kidnapped. The name of the young boy taken has not been released.

According to Fox News, the kidnapper had demanded the bus driver give him two children between the ages of 6 and 8. When he refused, Dykes shot and killed the driver.

Dykes, who is reportedly aVietnamVet, seems to be a menacing character. He was reportedly due in court on charges that he shot and yelled at some of his neighbors, including children, as they drove or walked near his house last month. He claimed they damaged his makeshift speed bump in the dirt road.

Opinion:

I am all for some sound, commonsense gun controls, and this case screams to be the poster child for it. Why was this character allowed to stockpile guns? All his neighbors knew Dykes was trouble—the very dangerous kind. If he was charged with menacing children with guns, shooting at neighbors for disrupting his dirt speed bump or trespassing across his imaginary property line, law enforcement should know he was not exactly a responsible citizen who should have deadly firearms at his disposal.

Which brings up another point, for as crazy as Dykes seems, he is reportedly a Vietnam Vet and the issue of mental illness, especially among those who served, is something that needs dealing with in a more comprehensive way. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said there is never a good war or a bad peace--and those who easily advocate war, never see the ravages of them up close.

On the other hand, I am looking at this standoff with police and the killing of the bus driver and can understand gun enthusiasts’ argument that we need to protect ourselves.

The FBI and every other conceivable law enforcement agency must be converged on that remote dirt road in Midland City, yet this loony gunman still has someone’s little boy hostage since Tuesday evening.

Our government tells us it has a handle on terror and has been successfully hunting down al-Qaida, the Taliban and every other terrorist out there—yet they cannot rescue one 5-year-old from a lone 65-year-old gunman. Seems to me they are woefully underprepared for these kinds of situations. What will happen if another crazy or several crazies decide to take more of our children?

Amid this grand show of force on the dirt road, the crisis has not been diffused. I can’t even imagine what the boy's parents must be going through.