Neighbors describe Jimmy Lee Dykes, the 65-year-old Vietnam war veteran holding a 6-year-old child hostage in a bunker he constructed underneath his house, as a paranoid and aggressive survivalist who repeatedly threatened his neighbors with firearms.
Tim Byrd, an investigator with the Dale County Sheriff’s office described Dykes to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog as a “survivalist” with “anti-America” views and ties to anti-government extremist.
“His friends and his neighbors stated that he did not trust the government, that he was a Vietnam vet, and that he had PTSD,” Byrd said. “He was standoffish, didn’t socialize or have any contact with anybody. He was a survivalist type.”
The ongoing hostage situation which began around 3:30 PM Tuesday afternoon is likely related to charges of menacing a neighbor Dyke was scheduled to appear in court for today. In December, neighbor James Edward Davis Jr. said that Dykes fired rounds and pointed a gun at him and his daughter after accusing Davis of driving over a makeshift speed bump he had constructed in the dirt road leading to his house.
“Before this happened I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me,” Claudia Davis, one of the three plaintiffs in the menacing case, said. “On Monday I saw him at a laundry mat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just stared and stared and stared at me.”
Another neighbor, Mike Smith, reported that Dykes once threatened to murder his children with a firearm after the Smiths’ dogs wandered onto his propery.
“He goes around his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun,” Smith told reporters, mentioning that Dykes would also often be seen digging in his yard late at night.
Ronda Wilbur, another resident who lives close to Dykes, said that he would go outside in the middle of the night to shoot birds and rabbits. Dykes cut down nearly every tree on his property, built a wire fence and would go “beserk” if dogs entered his property. Wilbur said that Dykes had previously killed her dog with a lead pipe.
“He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way,” Wilbur said, mentioning that animal control had talked to Dykes but ultimately did nothing about the situation. “If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people.”