Bunker hostage's mom forgave captor
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 10:09 p.m.
The mother of an Alabama boy held for days in an underground bunker said in an interview broadcast Wednesday that she forgave her son's captor early in the standoff and asked authorities not to harm him.
Jennifer Kirkland's son, Ethan Gilman, was a captive for six days in rural Midland City, Ala., before FBI agents entered the bunker and killed 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes.
Dykes “took care of Ethan to the best of his abilities” by cooking chicken for the boy and asking hostage negotiators to bring the child his favorite toy car, his mother told Dr. Phil McGraw in an interview for the “Dr. Phil Show.”
“From the very beginning, I had already forgiven Mr. Dykes, even though he still had my child,” Kirkland said. “... I asked that he not be hurt. But if it came down to it, you know, of course I want my child safe.”
Authorities returned Ethan unharmed after a gunbattle in which Dykes, according to a coroner, was shot multiple times. Kirkland said her son, who turned 6 just two days after the rescue, told her that he witnessed the shooting.
Members of the rescue team used stun grenades to disorient Dykes, who had a gun and had become agitated with negotiators, before rushing into the bunker, she said.
“They went in and covered Ethan with a vest and they shot Mr. Dykes,” Kirkland said.
Ethan saw the agents kill his captor, his mother said, just as days earlier he had witnessed Dykes storm onto his school bus and fatally shoot the driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr.
Poland and Ethan had become close, Kirkland said, as the driver had helped the boy work up the courage to get off the bus by himself.
“Ethan has always been scared of coming down the bus steps,” Kirkland said. “And Mr. Poland would always cheer him on, you know, ‘Come on, little buddy, you can do it.' ” Ethan typically sat right behind Poland on the school bus, where the driver could keep an eye on him, Kirkland said.
That's where the boy was sitting the day Dykes came aboard the bus armed with a gun and demanding two hostages. Authorities say Poland was shot trying to stand between Dykes and the children.
“The reason I think Ethan was taken off the bus is because when he saw Mr. Poland shot, Ethan passed out,” Kirkland said. “Mr. Dykes went down to catch him, and he picked him up. And I think, in his own way, he was trying to care for him.”
After the shooting, authorities say, Dykes fled to the bunker with the child as the standoff opened.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- FBI: Russian diplomats lied to get U.S. benefits
- Snowy owls travel south
- From prison to presidency, Mandela reformed South Africa, ended apartheid
- White House flops: Obama knew uncle
- 2 inmates of Gitmo sent home amid fears
- ‘Cannibal sandwiches’ of raw ground beef unsafe, CDC reports
- Budget plans remain in jeopardy
- Illinois overhauls its public pensions, cutting benefits for most workers, retirees
- Georgia cops suspended for cussing out rowdy bus of schoolkids
- VA fears budget cuts will reverse drop in homelessness
- Wash. woman tweets of crash death, finds out it’s husband