* Inside the Alabama Bunker Raid
* See Ethan Gilliam
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It was a seemingly hopeless situation: A 5-year-old boy named Ethan had been snatched off a school bus and was being held hostage by a homicidal kidnapper in an underground bunker wired with explosives. If police did not meet the kidnapper’s demands, he could detonate the bombs, killing himself and little Ethan.
And yet, six days after the kidnapping and just minutes after a close-quarters gun battle, little Ethan emerged from the bunker unscathed.
Now, the details of Ethan’s rescue can be revealed for the first time.
ABC News has obtained exclusive access to the audio recordings of Ethan’s kidnapping, the resulting six-day standoff at the bunker, and the child’s dramatic rescue by an FBI hostage and rescue team. ABC News has spoken exclusively with key members of that team — federal, state and local authorities whose courage and determination saved Ethan’s life.
It is a story of heroes, and it began on a warm Alabama afternoon late last January, when a man named Jimmy Lee Dykes boarded Ethan’s school bus waving a gun and demanding children. A camera on the bus recorded the moment. The voice is raspy, desperate, and chilling:
“I need two boys six to eight years old,” Dykes barked. “Six to eight years old. I mean it. Right now! Right now!”
The bus driver, Charles Poland, knew Dykes, and resisted his demands.
“I can’t do it,” Poland told Dykes.
“Do it!” Dykes screamed.
Poland replied calmly and simply, “No.”
With a gun staring him in the face, Poland said, “Sorry, you’re going to have to shoot me.”
“How about I shoot a kid then,” Dykes said.
“No. It’s my responsibility to keep these kids on the bus. I can’t turn them over to somebody else,” Poland said.
Crouching behind a bus seat, 15-year-old Tre’ Watts called 911. He told the dispatcher there was a man on the bus.
“He’s got a gun,” Watts told her, “and he keeps asking for kids.”
Startled, the dispatcher said, “He’s aiming the gun at the bus driver?!”
“Yes ma’am,” Watts replied.
You can hear the screams of the children and muffled gun shots on the tape.
The dispatcher asked, “Oh my gosh, what’s going on?”
“He just shot Mr. Poland,” Watts said. “I think Mr. Poland is dead.”
Watts was right. Poland died after being shot five times…
Back in February 6-Year-Old Ethan Speaks With ‘Dr. Phil’ After Abduction:
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* Inside Underground Bunker Photos