MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (WHNT and AL.com) – Ethan, a soon-to-be 6-year-old, is said to be laughing, eating, and playing in the comfort of his family’s arms tonight after being rescued during an FBI raid on a bunker here about 3:15 p.m. today.
Ethan was whisked from the scene to Dothan’s Flowers Hospital, and his mother’s arms, after teams raided the bunker of Jimmy Lee Dykes.
Dykes is accused of entering a school bus on Jan. 29, attempting to take children from the bus, and then shooting and killing driver Charles Allen Poland Jr. He abducted Ethan.
Dykes died on the scene today but it is unclear if he was shot or shot himself.
Negotiations deteriorated over the past 24 hours, according to Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson and federal officials.
Olson again refused to provide details at a 9 p.m. briefing for journalists. The main message, Olson said, is that the child is safe.
“It is a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child,” Olson said. “(Ethan) is a very special child. He has endured a lot. Through the grace of God, he is OK.”
Officials said details would remain scant while the crime scene is investigated and the actions taken at the bunker are documented.
“We have a big crime scene behind us to process,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson, of the Mobile bureau.
Richardson and Olson refused to address construction, movements of officers or materiel, or other things observed over the past days. The do not want to reveal techniques that resulted saving Ethan because those same techniques may be needed again.
Richardson said an independent review team is on its way from Washington to investigate.
Richardson said he had seen the child and the family at the hospital.
Authorities also wouldn’t comment on the explosion heard at around 3 p.m. that presumably was part of the raid into the bunker.
Richardson said agents felt Ethan was threatened and that is why it made the call go ahead with the raid.
Richardson wouldn’t elaborate on how FBI knew Dykes’ position or how they knew he had a gun.