FBI officials raided the bunker of Jimmy Lee Dykes and were able to rescue his 5-year-old hostage, reports state. The child had been held hostage for one week by Dykes, who was left dead after the raid.
The hostage, Ethan, was immediately taken to a hospital for treatment and observation and was given a clean bill of health. He was also reunited with his parents, who had been holding vigils at the site of the bunker, hoping for any communication with their son.
"He's laughing, joking, playing, eating– the things you'd expect of a 5- or 6-year-old," FBI Special Agent Stephen E. Richardson told the press during a conference. He added that officials decided to raid the bunker when negotiations began to deteriorate and they noticed that Dykes was carrying a gun.
"The subject is deceased," Richardson said of Dykes. He refused to give any specific details about the raid but confirmed the death and the wellness of the hostage.
The news of Ethan's rescue came as a huge relief to his family, community, and those across the nation who had been following the story since he was taken hostage on Jan. 29. Dykes boarded a stopped school bus and took Ethan hostage after shooting the bus driver four times. He then took the boy and holed up in his homemade bunker.
Dykes had a criminal history that included violence and was due in court to face charges of firing a gun at his neighbors during a dispute. He had also reportedly beaten a neighbor's dog with a metal pipe and boasted of the animal's death. The neighborhood was relieved to hear of Dykes' passing.
"I've been telling people for two years that man was going to kill somebody," neighbor Ronda Wilbur, whose dog was killed by Dykes, told The Los Angeles Times. "Thank God Ethan is safe – and thank God we'll all be safe from this man now. Our God is an awesome God," she added.
Ethan is now home with his parents, his great uncle, Berlin Enfinger told "Good Morning America."
"He's happy to be home, and he looks good," Enfinger said.