The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

January 31, 2013

Standoff: Ala. gunman kills bus driver, seizes boy

(Continued)

MIDLAND CITY, Ala — "He's very paranoid," her husband said. "He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun."

Patricia Smith said her children told her what happened on the bus: Two other children had just been dropped off and the Smith children were next. Dykes stepped onto the bus and grabbed the door so the driver couldnÕt close it. Dykes told the driver he wanted two boys, 6 to 8 years old, without saying why.

According to Smith, Dykes started down the aisle of the bus and the driver put his arm out to block him. Dykes fired four shots at Poland with a handgun, Smith said.

"He did give his life, saving children," Mike Smith said.

Patricia Smith said her daughter, a high school senior, began corralling the other children and headed for the back of the bus while Dykes and the driver were arguing. Later, Smith's son ran inside his house, telling his mother: "The crazy man across the street shot the bus driver and Mr. Poland won't wake up."

Patricia Smith ran over to the bus and saw the driver slumped over in his seat. Her daughter used another child's cellphone to call 911.

Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.

ÒHe said his only regret was he didnÕt beat him to death all the way,Ó Wilbur said. ÒIf a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, itÕs nothing until it's going to be people.Ó

Dykes 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 Dykes claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.

"Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me," Davis said. "On Monday I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just stared and stared and stared at me."

Associated Press writers Bob Johnson in Montgomery and Jay Reeves in Birmingham contributed to this report.

 

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