A US gunman and murder suspect who snatched a five-year-old boy and held him for a week underground in a bunker besieged by police has been killed and the child is safe, the FBI said Monday.
Police had earlier identified the abductor as Jimmy Lee Dykes, a 65-year-old retired trucker. The motive of the January 29 abduction in the town of Midland City in the southern state of Alabama remained unclear.
"At approximately 3:12 this afternoon, FBI agents safely recovered the child who's been held hostage for nearly a week," said FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson, who is in charge of the Mobile, Alabama division.
"Within the past 24 hours, negotiations deteriorated and Mr. Dykes was observed holding a gun. At this point, FBI agents, fearing the child was in imminent danger, entered the bunker and rescued the child."
The child, said Richardson, "appears physically unharmed and is being treated at a local hospital. The subject is deceased."
Dykes is thought to have shot dead the driver of a school bus when he seized his young hostage, retreating to an underground room on his property and defying calls for his surrender.