Man shoots Alabama bus driver, holds child hostage underground
NATIONAL NEWS (CNN) — A man boarded a school bus Tuesday, police said, shot the driver, took a 6-year-old boy hostage and is holding the boy in an underground bunker.
The incident started in the afternoon and continued early Wednesday morning with authorities still desperately trying to free the young child.
Late in the evening, the man had the child in some sort of underground bunker or storm shelter, and authorities were communicating with him through a PVC pipe, CNN affiliate WSFA reported.
"We will continue to work diligently through the night in an effort to bring closure to this incident as quickly as possible," the Dale County Sheriff's Department said at 11 p.m. CT.
Hours later, the hostage situation was still ongoing, WSFA reported. More than 13 hours after the ordeal had began, the child was still underground.
Adding to the tension was the fact that the child needs medication that has to be taken daily, CNN affiliate WDHN reported.
Overnight authorities were able to send the child's medication down the pipe in to the bunker and also determine that the boy had not been physically harmed, WDHN reported.
The incident started at about 3:40 p.m. CT near a church in Midland City, Alabama, in the southeastern corner of the state.
Michael Senn, a local pastor, told WSFA that he spoke to several students who had been on the bus.
He said a girl described the shooter getting aboard.
"He told most of them to get off the bus," Senn related. "And then he grabbed a little boy and shot the bus driver four times."
Local authorities did not give an update on the condition of the bus driver but said one person died after the shooting on the bus. WSFA and multiple other local media agencies reported that the bus driver died.
Mike Creel, the suspect 's neighbor, said he also talked to some of the children who escaped the bus. It was a terrifying scene, Creel told the affiliate.
The suspect had initially demanded two children, Creel told WSFA.
"The one child he got a hold of actually fainted," said Creel. "That was the reason he was able to grab him. And now he is hidden in his homemade bomb shelter."
Creel said the suspect had been living in the area for about two years and began building the "bomb shelter" right when he moved in.
Authorities have not released the name of the suspect.
Early in the morning, local authorities allowed the FBI to take the lead in the hostage situation, WDHN reported.