Monday, December 22, 2014

Midland City Residents Say Child's Parents Are "Holding Up"
By Jessica Gertler

The Midland City hostage situation has caused devastation in the community. Residents and city leaders are praying the child is okay and everything ends peacefully.

"I'm concerned. I'm quite concerned.," says Midland City Mayor Virgil Skipper.

Skipper knows the city and its 2,000 residents better than anyone else. So when authorities told him that resident Jimmy Lee Dykes stormed onto a school bus, shot and killed a bus driver and took a six-year-old child to his underground bunker, Skipper was in shock.

"I understand he was in Vietnam. He has been in wars and that's fine and good, but he's back here in the United States," says Skipper. "He's got a six-year-old kid being held hostage. I say turn that kid loose! Let him go back to his family."

The hostage standoff has now reached the third day, and community members have not stopped praying for the child's safe return.

Pastor Michael Senn is a friend of the child's family.

"They are holding up very well. Much better than you would even expect," Senn says. "Of course it's a very hard time for them. A very traumatic time for them."

Memorial services are being held this weekend for the bus drive, Charles Poland, who authorities say was shot multiple times after trying to stop Dykes from taking the child.

As for Skipper, he says the city will continue to hold prayer services until the child returns home.

"The family is quite torn up about this," says Skipper. "They don't understand why. The rest of us, of course, don't understand really why."

Senn says his church and several others in the community will be holding special services on Sunday.

Dale County School Superintendent Donny Bynum released a statement. He says he appreciates the outpouring of love and support, and asks that you continue to pray for Poland's family, that's the bus driver who was killed, plus the safe release of the boy, and for law enforcement officers.