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First picture emerges of man believed to have taken 5-year-old hostage in Alabama

A police source confirms to NBC News that this is the suspect in an Alabama hostage-taking, Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65.

The first picture emerged Friday of the Alabama man who authorities say has held a 5-year-old boy in an underground bunker for more than three days after snatching him off a school bus.

A police source confirmed to NBC News that the photo is of Jimmy Lee Dykes, who authorities say took the boy after shooting and killing the bus driver Tuesday afternoon in the small town of Midland City.


Dykes, 65, described by authorities and neighbors as a Vietnam veteran and survivalist with deep mistrust of the government, has communicated with hostage negotiators through a long PVC pipe.

The boy has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a state representative said Thursday. Authorities have gotten medicine to the boy through the pipe, plus crayons and coloring books.

Bus driver Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was shot and killed while trying to stop the abduction. His children told NBC News that he thought of the children on the bus as his own, and took bullets for them as he might have for his son or daughter.

"Every time a child got on my dad's bus, they were no longer (with) their parents,' they were his," son Aaron Poland said in an interview that aired Friday on TODAY.

Police towed the bus away from the scene Friday after processing it for evidence.

The two men had a brief encounter a day before the siege, a neighbor said. Kelly Miller, who lives next door to Dykes, told NBC affiliate WSFA that Dykes boarded Poland’s bus Monday and spoke with him. She did not know what was said.

Then, on Tuesday morning, before the abduction, Poland gave Dykes a gift of eggs and marmalade to thank him for clearing off the driveway where the bus had to turn around, according to Miller.

Miller, whose sons Jessie and Jackson were able to leave the bus before the shooting, told the station that Dykes called her father to the property fence shortly afterward and gave him Poland’s gifts, saying: "Here. I don't want this."

Hours later, Miller heard shots and screams.

"Within seconds of me grasping what was going on, I knew it was Jim," she told WSFA.

Published reports have quoted neighbors as saying Dykes has spent as long as eight days at a time in the bunker.

A U.S. military official confirmed Friday that Dykes served a little more than four years in the Navy before being discharged in January 1969. He received several awards, including a medal for good conduct.

Neighbors have described him as a paranoid menace who killed at least one neighborhood pet and threatened children on his property. On the day of the school bus siege, he was due in court over allegedly shooting at a neighbor’s truck. Police have not said if they believe the planned court appearance was connected to the hostage situation.

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