Man shoots US bus driver, takes child

2013-01-30 18:29
Police at a check point in Midland City, near the home where the school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. (Jay Hare, AP)

Police at a check point in Midland City, near the home where the school bus shooting suspect is barricaded in a bunker with a young child as hostage. (Jay Hare, AP)

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Midland City - Police teams swarmed a rural US property on Wednesday where a man accused of fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6-year-old passenger was thought to be hiding in a home-made bunker.

Neighbours were evacuated, and one said she had been startled this week by the suspect's stare.

The man boarded the bus in Midland City, Alabama, on Tuesday afternoon and shot the driver when he refused to let the child off, Dale County Sheriff Wally Olsen told WBMA-TV.

The shooter then took the child, authorities said.

County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt told AP the standoff continued early on Wednesday.

"That's what has been described to me as an underground bunker. Someplace to get out of the way of a tornado," Hilboldt said.

About 50 vehicles from law enforcement agencies were clustered at the mouth of a dirt road that leads to the suspect's property.

Journalists were being held back from the area and couldn't see the home.

The coroner said the victim, who was in his mid-60s, died of multiple gunshot wounds.

He wouldn't release a name until family had been notified.

Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution, said Rachel David, a spokesperson for the police department in the nearby town of Dothan.

"Authorities also confirmed the presence of a child at the scene, but are giving no further information at this time," David said in a news release on Tuesday.

Claudia Davis, who lives on the road where the standoff was taking place, said on Wednesday that she and her neighbours couldn't leave because the one road was blocked by police.

Davis, 54, said she has had run-ins with the suspect.

"Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me," Davis said.

"On Monday, I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just started and stared and stared at me."

Michael Creel, who lives on the road where the shooting happened, said he went outside after his sister heard gunshots.

"Me and her started running down the road," Creel told the Dothan Eagle newspaper.

"That's when I realised the bus had its siren going off. Kids were filing out, running down the hill toward the church."

Midland City police would not comment, and a dispatcher at the Dale City Sheriff's office said the agency was not releasing any immediate details.

- AP
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