A 6-day hostage standoff ended Monday when a man holed up a bunker was found dead and police recovered the 5-year-old he abducted, an official said.
The child appeared to be OK when he was freed, law enforcement officials said. Alabama state Rep. Steve Clouse told CNN that the boy was taken to a hospital in nearby Dothan.
The child — identified only by his first name, Ethan — was to be reunited with his mother and grandmother at a hospital, state Sen. Harri Anne Smith said.
The legislator said she was just arriving for an afternoon visit with Ethan’s mother when authorities whisked away the mother. Smith said the woman’s smile, and the smiles of others, gave away the good news. The two hugged before authorities drove the mother away.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Steve Richardson at the scene said negotiations had broken down with the child’s abductor and the kidnapper was “observed holding a gun.”
Believing the child to be in imminent danger, an FBI team entered the bunker at 3:12 p.m. CT (4:12 p.m. ET) and rescued the boy, Richardson said, adding that the hostage-taker is dead.
One neighbor said he was outside when he was startled by the sound of an explosion.
“I heard a big boom and then … I believe I heard rifle shots,” said Bryon Martin, who owns a home near the bunker where the boy had been held since Tuesday.
It was a loud noise that “made me jump off the ground,” he said.
After the good news spread through the community, travelers on a nearby highway honked their horns as they drove by.
The FBI had borrowed from the U.S. military high-tech detection equipment similar to the technology used to discover homemade bombs in war zones, three Defense Department officials told CNN.
It was unclear if the equipment, which is not readily available to civilian law enforcement, had been used by the FBI.
One of the defense officials said no members of the military were involved in the rescue. They would have been acting a technical advisers, the official said.