A 5-year-old boy held hostage nearly a week is safe and the Alabama man who held him hostage is dead, law enforcement officials say.
[Update 10:30 p.m. ET] President Barack Obama called FBI Director Robert Mueller to compliment him for the role federal law enforcement officers played in resolving the hostage situation in Alabama today, a White House official told CNN. "The president praised the exceptional coordination between state, local, and federal partners, and thanked all the law enforcement officials involved during the nearly week-long ordeal for their roles in the successful rescue of the child."
[Update 10:17 p.m. ET] Law enforcement officials in Alabama expressed gratitude and relief at the successful conclusion of the week-long hostage ordeal in Midland City.
At a 9 p.m. news conference, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson said getting the 5-year-old hostage out alive was the goal of everyone on the scene.
"This is a very special child," Olson said. "He's been through a lot, (and) by the grace of God he's OK. ...
"I'm a father, a lot of these men and women that's been sacrificing tireless hours, they're parents as well. It's a relief to be able to reunite mother and child."
The boy, whose name is Ethan, is with his mother at a local hospital, said Steve Richardson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Mobile regional office.
"Ethan is laughing, joking, playing, eating - the things you would expect a normal 5-year-old child to do," Richardson said.
The officials refused to divulge any details of the rescue operation, saying they expect to need to employ the same tactics in another situation someday in the future.
Olson said officials believed Ethan was in danger.
"That's why we went in - to save the child," he said.
[Update 5:46 p.m. ET]
Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley issued the following statement:
"Shortly after 3 p.m., I spoke with Col. Hugh McCall of the Department of Public Safety and Homeland Security Director Spencer Collier.Â They informed me that law enforcement had breached the bunker, the child was safe and the abductor was killed.
"I want to thank the law enforcement, first responders and all additional personnel who worked tireless hours to bring this situation to a resolution.Â They performed heroic efforts, and they should be praised for how they handled themselves in a professional manner.
"I am thankful that the child who was abducted is now safe.Â I am so happy this little boy can now be reunited with his family and friends.Â We will all continue to pray for the little boy and his family as they recover from the trauma of the last several days.
"At the same time, we also want to remember the family and friends of the bus driver - Charles Poland, Jr.Â This man was a true hero who was willing to give up his life so others might live.Â We are all inspired by his courage and bravery.
"I ask everyone across the state - and the nation - to continue to lift up these families and the entire Midland City community in your prayers."
[Earlier updates] Steve Richardson, the FBI's special agent in charge of the local office, said at a brief news conference that negotiations with Jimmy Lee Dykes had "deteriorated" during the past 24 hours, and that Dykes had been observed holding a gun.
At 3:12 p.m. CT, FBI agents entered the bunker and safely recovered the young hostage, Richardson said.
He said Dykes was dead and the child appeared to be physically unharmed. He did not say how Dykes died.
Richardson and other law enforcement officials declined to answer any questions.
The abducted boy, whose name is Ethan, has been taken to a hospital about eight miles from the place where he had been held hostage, Alabama Rep. Steve Clouse told CNN.
"Finally, this nightmare has come to an end," he said.
A neighbor of Dykes' said Monday he heard it end.
"I heard a big boom and then I heard, I believe I heard, rifle shots," Byron Martin told CNN. "Literally made me jump off the ground."FULL STORY