Alabama bunker standoff: Did politics set Jimmy Dykes off?
After killing a school bus driver, retired Alabama truck driver Jimmy Dykes has held a 5-year-old boy hostage for five days in an underground tornado bunker. Neighbors say the act may be a provocative political statement.
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Survivalism has been tied to violence recently. Nancy Lanza, the slain mother of Newtown, Conn., school shooter Adam Lanza, was known to friends as a survivalist who had stocked up on firearms and food in anticipation of a social and economic meltdown. Last year, a survivalist in Washington State, Peter Keller, killed his wife and daughter before holing up in a multi-storied wilderness bunker, where he was eventually found dead by police.Skip to next paragraph
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Known as "Mean Man" to some of his neighbors, Dykes' behavior had long raised concerns. The underground hostage standoff may have been sparked by a scheduled court hearing for an incident in December where Dykes fired shots at neighbors after a yelling match where he claimed the neighbors’ truck damaged a speed bump along the dirt road where he lives. Dykes was charged by police with menacing, a misdemeanor.
"People who live near Mr. Dykes consider him a neighbor from hell," writes blogger Jim Fisher, on the True Crime blog. "Paranoid, combative, and violent, Dykes, pursuant to a variety of neighborhood disputes and feuds, has threatened to shoot people. He has been seen patrolling his property at night with a flashlight and a shotgun. … If convicted of the misdemeanor, the judge could sentence the loner and survivalist up to six months in jail."
But police have also speculated that Dykes' motivations run deeper.
“His friends and his neighbors stated that he did not trust the government, that he was a Vietnam vet, and that he had PTSD,” Dale County investigator Tim Byrd told the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog. “He was standoffish, didn’t socialize or have any contact with anybody. He was a survivalist type.”
On the other hand, media coverage of Dykes as a "loner" and "survivalist" may itself be part of a broader conspiracy intended to justify gun confiscation for certain kinds of people, worries the Infowars.com website, which is run by Alex Jones.
"Will anyone who wants to install a bunker in their backyard, or wants to buy storable food be labeled suspect for such activities because of this one psycho’s antics?" one Infowars blog posted this week noted. "You betcha."
Responding to the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog, commenter Cindy Bidwell Glaze also raised concerns about tying the acts of a single person to a broad, decentralized movement.
"His contacts with the law have been individual contacts of a violent person, not the kind that connect a person to a movement or terrorist organization," she writes. "How does this connect to a national audience? There are people out there who are unusual and violent in every community. There is, to the best of my knowledge no organization that binds them."
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