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Sheriff to Alabama hostage-taker: 'I want to thank him for taking care of our child'

A survivalist and his 5-year-old captive remained in a bunker in southern Alabama on Saturday as top hostage negotiators continued to communicate with the man. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.

A young Alabama boy entered his fifth day Saturday in a bunker with the man accused of snatching him off a school bus.

Police said Saturday that the boy, aged 5, has toys, coloring books, and medication in the underground bunker where he is being held by Jimmy Lee Dykes, the Associated Press reported.

The boy has Asperger’s syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a state representative said earlier this week.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said that Dykes, 65, told police he has an electric heater and blankets in the underground bunker on his property in Midland City, Ala. Olson would not say whether Dykes has made any demands, according to the AP.


“I want to thank him for taking care of our child,” Olson said. “That’s very important.”

While little has changed in the standoff since Tuesday afternoon and authorities are keeping tight-lipped, former FBI hostage negotiator Clint Van Zandt said on the TODAY show that patience may pay off.

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

“85 percent or more of standoff situations like this end nonviolently,” Van Zandt said on Saturday. Police have said that they are communicating with Dykes in the bunker through a PVC ventilation pipe.

“The reality is he hasn’t been hurt,” Van Zandt said of the young hostage. “Law enforcement doesn’t want to do anything precipitously that could cause anybody to be hurt at this time when the talking cure will likely work in this situation.”

A police source confirms to NBC News that this is the suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65.

Dykes’ neighbor Michael Creel told the AP that the man, who has been described as a paranoid Navy veteran, showed off the ventilation pipe after installing it about a year ago.

“He was bragging about it,” Creel told the AP. “He said, ‘Come check it out.’”

The first picture of Dykes emerged Friday. The man served just over four years in the Navy, a U.S. military official confirmed on Friday, and received several awards including a good conduct medal.

Meanwhile, the Dale County community mourned school bus driver Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, this weekend. Police say Poland was shot and killed while trying to stop the child from being taken off his bus on Tuesday.

Son says bus driver in Alabama hostage crisis gave life for ‘his children’

Aaron Poland, the son of the slain bus driver, told TODAY that his dad died a hero.

“Every time a child got on my dad’s bus, they were no longer their parents’, they were his. He considered them his children,” Poland said, his voice quavering with emotion. “I know that’s the reason why my dad took those shots, for his children, just like he would do for me and my sister.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Mourners lined up to pay their respects to bus driver Charles Poland, who died on the job last week, protecting the kids on his bus after it was boarded by Jimmy Lee Dykes. Dykes continues to hold Ethan, 5, hostage in an underground bunker after snatching him from the bus. NBC's Gabe Gutierrez reports.