Police SWAT teams and hostage negotiators are gathered at a standoff and hostage scene in Dale County near Midland City, Ala (Credit: AP/Montgomery Advertiser)
Police have made contact with a kindergartener being held captive in a bunker by a gunman.
Officers have been able to get medicine, food and a coloring book to the little boy through a PVC pipe in the bunker, authorities reported Thursday.
The terrifying situation started Tuesday afternoon after the suspect climbed on board a stopped school bus in Midland City, Ala. and announced that he wanted two boys ages 6 to 8. Authorities say most of the students scrambled to the back of the bus, and the bus driver grabbed a pole near the front steps of the vehicle to block the suspect. The suspect shot the bus driver several times, then grabbed one child and ran.
The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the 21 students aboard the bus.
Since abducting the little boy, the man and child have been holed up inside the bunker. Authorities say the bunker has electricity, and the child has been allowed to watch TV. Homes in the area have been evacuated after what was believed to be a bomb was found on the property.
Neighbors describe the suspect as a 65-year-old former truck driver with a violent reputation. Many say he is prone to beating animals, sometimes to death, if they wander onto his property, and has often threatened to shoot children who get too close to his home.
The suspect had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors as they drove by his house weeks ago. Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage the man claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.
Dozens of police and FBI agents are gathered around the home Thursday. A local CBS affiliate says a small helicopter was seen flying around the scene during the night, then landed. The reason was unknown.
A press conference was held early Thursday morning, but did not provide any new updates.
We continue to follow this story closely, and will provide new updates as soon as they are made available.