A 6-year-old autistic boy is currently being held in an underground bunker after a gunman boarded a stopped school bus on Tuesday in Midland City, Ala., and snatched the kindergartener, the Associated Press reports. But before the shooter got away with the child, the brave bus driver, Charles Albert Poland, Jr., 66, stood up to the gunman, but was shot multiple times and killed.
"We are mourning a hero, 66 year-old Charles Poland, who gave his life to protect twenty-one students who are now home safely with their families,” Dale County Schools Superintendent Donny Bynum, said in a statement, according to WCTV.
Authorities have identified the suspect as Jimmy Lee Dykes, whom they described as "paranoid and combative," the Associated Press reported. The child's name has not yet been released.
According to WCTV, the standoff went through the night and authorities have been communicating with the child through a pvc pipe in the bunker. He has reportedly been given his medication since being taken hostage.
While the distraught community hopes for the safe return of the kidnapped child, they’re mourning the loss of the courageous bus driver who spent four years working for the school system.
“Mr. Poland was well-loved by all of us here at Dale County Schools,” Bynum said in a statement. “And we will forever remember him for the bravery he showed yesterday.”