Cops: Freed Alabama Boy 'Laughing, Playing'

Ethan reunited with mother after bunker ordeal
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2013 12:42 AM CST
Federal and local law enforcement officers gather at their trucks after the hostage crisis ended in Midland City, Alabama.   (AP Photo/The Dothan Eagle, Jay Hare)
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(Newser) – The 5-year-old Alabama boy freed in a raid that ended in kidnapper Jimmy Lee Dykes' death has been reunited with his mother after his weeklong ordeal in an underground bunker. Hours after the rescue, Ethan was "laughing, joking, playing, eating—the things that you would expect a normal 5- to 6-year-old young man to do," an FBI spokesman says. "He’s very brave. He’s very lucky." The successful rescue sparked celebrations in neighboring communities and celebratory church services are planned, the Dothan Eagle reports.

Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson says the FBI decided to move in after Dykes was seen holding a gun, raising fears that the boy's life was in imminent danger. "I’m a father," Olson says. "It is a relief for us to be able to reunite a mother with her child." The sheriff paid tribute to the school bus driver who was shot dead trying to protect children after Dykes boarded his bus. Authorities have declined to discuss Dykes' motive or to go into much detail about the rescue operation. "Unfortunately, we will have to deal with another one of these some day," the FBI spokesman says. (Read more Alabama stories.)

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