Police, SWAT teams and negotiators clustered at a rural property where a man was believed to be holed up in an underground shelter Wednesday after fatally shooting the driver of a school bus and fleeing with a 6-year-old child passenger, authorities said.
The standoff went through the night after the man, whose name has not been released by police, boarded the stopped school bus in the town of Midland City on Tuesday afternoon. Dale County Sheriff Wally Olsen told WBMA-TV the man shot the driver when he refused to let the child off the bus and the driver later died. His identity wasn't released.
The shooter took the child, authorities said.
About 50 vehicles from federal, state and local agencies were clustered early Wednesday at the mouth of a dirt road off a U.S. highway. The dead-end road leads to homes including the suspect's property, which was over a low rise behind a church on the highway and couldn't be seen from where reporters were being kept back.
County coroner Woodrow Hilboldt told The Associated Press the suspect was believed to be in an underground shelter on his property.
"That's what has been described to me as an underground bunker. Someplace to get out of the way of a tornado," Hilboldt said.
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.
Claudia Davis, who lives on the road where the standoff was taking place, said early Wednesday that she and her neighbors can't leave because the one road was blocked by police.
Davis, 54, said she has had run-ins with the man suspected as the shooter.
"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 laundry mat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck and he just started and stared and stared at me."
Midland City police would not comment, and a dispatcher at the Dale City Sheriff's office told The Associated Press early Wednesday that the agency was not releasing any immediate details.
"Authorities also confirmed the presence of a child at the scene but are giving no further information at this time," Rachel David, a spokeswoman for the police department in the nearby city of Dothan, said in a news release late Tuesday.
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
"That's when I realized the bus had its siren going off. Kids were filing out, running down the hill toward the church."