Dramatic End To Alabama Hostage Standoff Took Careful Planning

NPR icon by Mark Memmott
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As more becomes known about how authorities rescued an almost-6-year-old boy named Ethan from his nearly week-long captivity in an Alabama bunker with a gunman, some fascinating details are emerging.

ABC News is reporting that "officials were able to insert a high-tech camera into the 6-by-8-foot bunker to monitor [kidnapper Jimmy Lee] Dykes' movements, and they became increasingly concerned that he might act out," according to "a law enforcement source with direct knowledge' of the situation.

Also, "the FBI had created a mock bunker near the site and had been using it to train agents for different scenarios to get Ethan out, sources told ABC News."

NBC News says the explosion heard by neighbors in Midland City, Ala., Monday afternoon "apparently came from a 'diversionary device,' an FBI source confirmed." The network adds that:

"FBI officers had lowered a camera into the bunker — they would not reveal how, saying they may want to use the method in the future — which allowed them to determine when to throw in the flash-bang to distract Dykes.That's when they entered through a door at the top of the bunker."

According to AL.com, "neighbor Micah Senn, 16, who lives a few hundred yards from the hostage site, said he heard the explosion followed by four to five rounds of gunfire. 'I knew something had to have happened,' he said."

CNN looks at one of the other questions arising out of this story — how will the trauma of seeing his bus driver murdered and then being held in a small underground bunker for nearly a week with a gunman affect little Ethan?

"It's very hard to tell how he's going to do," Louis Krouse, a psychiatrist at Chicago's Rush Medical Center tells CNN. "On the one hand, he might get right back to his routine and do absolutely fine. But on the other hand, the anxieties, the trauma, what we call an acute stress disorder even post traumatic stress symptoms can occur."

The good news, as we reported Monday night, is that FBI special agent Stephen Richardson said Ethan was "laughing, joking, playing, eating, things you'd expect a normal 5-to-6-year-old young man to do."

Ethan was rescued, by the way, two days before his sixth birthday, according to Dan Carsen of NPR member station WBHM.

As for the 65-year-old Dykes, the local Dothan Eagle writes that neighbors say he "changed over time," from a friendly man to one who threatened "anyone who touched his property."

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