Behind the Scenes: Hostage 101

by - January 31, 2013

If you've been anywhere near a t.v. over the past three days, you probably know about what's going on in Dale County, AL.

On Tuesday afternoon, a school bus pulled up to Destiny Church on Private Road 1539 in Midland City. It was 3:30. There were 22 children on the bus. A man, identified by witnesses and neighbors but not by police, got on that bus. He demanded the children get off and go with him. The bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland, Jr., refused. He was shot and killed for his efforts. The shooter abducted a kindergartener and barricaded himself inside a homemade, underground bunker.

The 911 calls started pouring in at 3:37 p.m.

On day three of continuous coverage, there's not much more to report. Multiple law enforcement agencies, including Alabama State Troopers, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and FBI, have been on scene for more than 48 hours at this point.

Negotiators have been in contact with the suspect. They're communicating through a piece of PVC pipe that runs from the bunker to a gate. Authorities say the bunker is some four feet underground and has about 8x6 feet of floor space. Not exactly roomy, and no one knows if there's heat or running water. However, authorities say they are confident the little boy has not been harmed, and negotiators have been able to deliver food and medication to him.

Police have confirmed the child has autism, although it isn't clear how severe it is. That opens up a whole new world of fears and the possibility of long-lasting effects. Psychiatrists say the longer this situation lasts, the higher that possibility. They also say the little boy will most likely need some type of behavioral counseling after this is all over.

Dozens of volunteers with the Salvation Army have been offering their support to the responders. They've set up a mobile feeding unit near the FBI command post, and since Tuesday they've served more than 3,000 meals, snacks and drinks.

That's saying nothing of the outpouring of support from the community. From leaving porch lights on to candlelight vigils to prayer services, the Wiregrass has come together to try to lift up the families of both Charles Poland and the little boy being held underground.

Agencies from neighboring counties have been sending in men to offer a bit of relief for the Midland City Police and Dale County Sheriff's deputies. Through it all, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson has not left the scene.

The FBI has now taken over negotiations. All that's left to do is pray.

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  1. Candlelight vigils and prayer services. Sadly, it's how we roll in this violent land we call America.