By: Devin Smith
Authorities have now officially identified the man responsible for the hostage situation developing in Midland City as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes.
The press conference confirming the release of the information came just hours before Dykes and the child entered their fourth day inside the underground bunker. No other information was given regarding the current state of the negotiations other than the continued assurance that the boy is still safe.
Earlier in the afternoon, the school bus where the shooting that preceded the hostage situation took place was removed from the area with a wrecker and taken to an undisclosed location. Sheriff Willy Olson said that law enforcement had spent several hours collecting evidence from the bus prior to it being relocated. The funeral services for the bus driver, Charles Poland Jr., are scheduled to take place at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Ozark Civic Center.
This has not been the first tragedy that the people of Midland City have had to face in recent years. Since 2006 there have been three separate occasions in which a student at Dale County High School has died for various reasons, and the school lost its schools head football coach in 2009.
One person who has been involved in supporting the community has been Pinkard Baptist Church Pastor, Michael Senn. His church also owns the Destiny Church building that has been commandeered by authorities into a makeshift command post during their investigation. Senn mentioned that there has been a large, but expected, amount of support from many others outside of Midland City.
“We understand in the world that life goes on,” Senn said.
“People are still going to work, people are still doing their jobs, people are still living. But it seems like here in the Pinkard area and the Midland City area that life has come to a standstill.”
The Salvation Army has also been on the scene, providing food as well as counseling to law enforcement and media throughout the process. To this point they have given out nearly 7,000 meals and are encouraging anyone hoping to lend a hand to contact them for more information. In the meantime this small Alabama town will continue to what the situation as it unfolds.
“The school busses still have to run,” Senn said.”
“The teachers still have to teach, pastors still have to encourage the love and the authorities still have to do what god has blessed them to do to help protect the people.”