Law enforcement officers dressed in tactical gear could be seen walking up a private dirt road in Pinckard on Wednesday as they continue to try to rescue a young boy believed to be held hostage inside a bunker by a man who witnesses say shot a school bus driver on Tuesday.
Dozens of law enforcement vehicles, including more than one mobile command center vehicle, parked next to Destiny Church, located alongside Private Road 1539 off U.S. 231 North.
Multiple law enforcement officers responded to a reported shooting involving a school bus on the dirt road around 3:35 p.m. Tuesday.
Authorities said the shooting resulted in the death of the school bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Albert Poland Jr. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson told the media late Wednesday that the shooter had fled the bus after the shooting with a “small child.”
A Dale County Schools statement said authorities were doing everything possible to ensure the safe release of the abducted 6-year-old kindergarten student.
As a result of the shooting, schools in both Dale County and Ozark will be closed for the remainder of the week.
The Dale County Schools statement said law enforcement officers from the Dale County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security were all on the scene. Several other agencies responded in assistance, including Midland City police, Newton police, Dothan police and the Houston County Sheriff’s Office.
Olson, Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams and State Trooper Charles Dysart, a spokesperson for the Alabama Department of Public Safety, gave periodic updates to the media on what has developed into an ongoing hostage situation.
The shooting and abduction drew nearly a dozen media outlets from across the Southeast United States, including a couple national outlets such as CNN.
The Dale County Sheriff’s Office established a command post across the street from Destiny Church on U.S. 231 North in Pinckard.
At an evening press briefing Olson said law enforcement negotiators continued to talk to the gunman.
“We have no reason to believe the child has been harmed,” Olson said.