Editorial: Happy Birthday, Ethan. We are happy you are home.

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The hostage standoff in Alabama ended Monday when U.S. authorities stormed an underground bunker in rural Alabama rescuing a 5-year-old boy held hostage for nearly a week. The little boy, identified only as Ethan, celebrated his birthday on Wednesday.

FBI officials rescued Ethan from his kidnapper, 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, who died during the incident. Law enforcement officials did not confirm on Monday how Dykes died.

The drama began when Dykes, a retired trucker who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War era, boarded a school bus ferrying more than 20 children home last Tuesday and demanded that the driver let a student off the bus, according to authorities.

When driver Charles Albert Poland, 66, refused, Dykes shot him four times with a 9 mm handgun, killing the school bus driver.

Dykes then fled with Ethan to a homemade bunker equipped with a television and electric heaters on the man's property.

According to reports, the kidnapper allowed authorities to deliver medication, coloring books and toys to the kindergarten student, who suffers from both Asperger's Syndrome and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.

At the time of this writing, details are sketchy. A law enforcement source reported a stun or flash grenade was detonated as part of the operation to free the boy, but further details have not been released.

By all accounts, Ethan was not physically harmed during the six-day ordeal. We are grateful for that and happy he is home with his family celebrating his birthday.

We don't know what caused the kidnapper snap, but the Dale County sheriff said Dykes had a "very complex" story to tell.

He didn't elaborate, but a neighbor told reporters Dykes was afraid of losing his property, his rights and his freedom. Now two people are dead.

If anyone reading this is hurting from financial or emotional problems, please seek help.

The Ascension Parish Counseling Center offers appointments by calling (225) 621-5775, in Gonzales; or, (225) 473-8342, in Donaldsonville. For emergencies, call 911.

Let's prevent another random act of violence.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.