Alabama hostage standoff -- Day 7

Alabama Hostage Crisis
Posted at 12:21 PM, Feb 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-04 12:18:45-05

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (CNN/WTXL) -- It's day seven for local, state and federal authorities working to free a 5-year-old boy from the hands of a kidnapping and murder suspect keeping him hostage. 

The suspect, now identified as Jimmy Lee Dykes, reportedly forced his way onto a school bus with a gun and demanded to take two of the 22 children on board. The bus driver, 66-year-old Charles Poland, refused. Deputies say Dykes killed Poland and snatched the 5-year-old boy. 

Dykes and the child are reportedly holed up in a bunker on Dyke's property. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olson says that a heater and an electric blanket keep the two warm, but he won't say if Dykes has access to a television or radio.

Law enforcement has been able to provide coloring books, medication, and toys to the child.

Negotiators have said little about their communications with Dykes, but neighbors are sharing what they know about the suspect. They say they often saw him walking up and down the road with a gun. They also saw him working on the site that's now being used as a bunker, even though they didn't know that's what he was working on back then.

Though the focus continues to focus on the child hostage, many in the community stopped to remember the man who lost his life -- the bus driver. Hundreds of relatives and strangers gathered to listen to excerpts from letters written by children -- many of the children Poland drove to school everyday. Teachers arrived on yellow buses adorned with black bows to honor the friend they called "Chuck."

One woman, Michelle Riley, is showing respect and support for both two victims of this crisis -- the man who gave his life to protect the children and the child who's being held hostage underground. Riley hands out ribbons at nightly vigils. She says she still has hopes that Dykes will come out and free the child.

"He's coming out, there's no doubt in my mind," Riley said.  "I said Wednesday, I was driving to work, and I just had a peace come over me, from the top of my head to the tip of my big toe, he's coming out... he's coming out."