Residents of Midland City, Alabama, are celebrating the release of a five year old boy from the town held captive for a week.
Believing the boy was in “imminent danger”, the FBI raided the bunker where he was being held, shooting the hostage-taker who was also a suspected murderer.
“We had prayed for our little warrior to come out strong and safe and for his mother to wrap her arms around him,” said relieved Midland City native Josh Tucker.
The child, identified only as Ethan, was abducted from a school bus seven days ago. He is said to be unharmed, but was taken to a local hospital.
“Let me explain something to you about this little boy. He’s a very special child whose been through a lot. He’s endured a lot. It is by the grace of God, he’s, he’s okay,” Sheriff of Dale County Wally Olson told reporters.
Police say negotiations with the hostage-taker, 65-year-old Jimmy Dykes, had broken down in the previous 24 hours.
Dykes is also believed to have shot and killed the bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, 65.
The motive for the kidnapping is unknown.
Dykes was a retired truck driver and highly-decorated Vietnam War veteran. However, reports from neighbours claim he was mentally-disturbed and feared a government raid on his property. One neighbour accuses Dykes of beating her dog to death with a pipe.