FBI: Ala. man engaged in 'firefight' with officers

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MIDLAND CITY, Ala. -- The man who held a 5-year-old boy captive for nearly a week engaged in a firefight with SWAT agents storming his underground bunker before he was killed during the rescue operation, the FBI said Tuesday night. Also, bomb technicians scouring the property found two explosive devices -- one in the bunker and the other in a plastic pipe that negotiators used to communicate with the man.

Officers on Monday killed Jimmy Lee Dykes, said a law enforcement official in Midland City, speaking on condition of anonymity. The bunker raid came six days after Dykes, 65, boarded a school bus, fatally shot the driver and abducted the boy, who by all accounts was unharmed.

Dykes "reinforced the bunker against any attempted entry by law enforcement," FBI Special Agent Jason Pack said in an email. The devices found were "disrupted," Agent Pack said, though he did not say whether that meant they were detonated or disarmed. Officers will continue into Wednesday to sweep the 100-acre property, and, when they finish, investigators can more thoroughly investigate, Agent Pack said.

For days, officers passed food, medicine, toys and other items into the bunker, which was similar to a tornado shelter and apparently had running water, heat and cable television.

On Monday, authorities said Dykes had a gun and appeared increasingly agitated, though it is unclear exactly how his behavior changed. Negotiations -- details of which have not been made public -- were deteriorating. Agents stormed the bunker, whisking the boy to safety and leaving Dykes dead.

Neighbors said they heard what sounded like explosions and gunshots, though the FBI and local authorities would not confirm whether shots were fired or explosives detonated.

By all accounts, despite his ordeal, the 5-year-old appeared to be acting like a normal kid, people around him say. He was running around, playing with a toy dinosaur and other action figures, eating a turkey sandwich and watching "SpongeBob SquarePants," relatives and Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said.

"We know he's OK physically, but we don't know how he is mentally," Betty Jean Ransbottom, the boy's grandmother, said in an interview Tuesday. She added that she feared that the ordeal would stay with the child, who turns 6 today, the rest of his life.

The boy's mother, in a statement released by the FBI, expressed her thanks for all the hard work of so many officers to bring her son home. The woman declined to be identified, the statement said. "For the first time in almost a week, I woke up this morning to the most beautiful sight, ... my sweet boy," she said. "I can't describe how incredible it is to hold him again."

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