ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - A sheriff at the center of a case that gripped the nation briefed New Mexico lawmen Wednesday on the kidnapping of a boy from a school bus and the intense hostage drama that followed.
Sheriff Wally Olson described each day of the hostage situation in Alabama that started in January from when a kidnapper took a 5-year-old boy named Ethan off a school bus and then executed the driver to the day they rescued the boy from the bunker.
"I got a second page that the bus driver had been shot and killed," Olson said. "When we arrived there was kids running from up on this hill down this dirt road."
The suspect, Jimmy Lee Dykes, had worked on his plan for a year starting with befriending the bus driver.
"Mr. Dykes took the time to create a place on his property for him to turn that bus around," Olson said during a session of the New Mexico Sheriff's Association annual conference in Albuquerque.
Olson showed a picture that pinpointed where Dykes cleared his property. The sheriff even divulged how Dykes offered the bus driver vegetables the day before the abduction to persuade him to stop.
Once inside the bus Dykes shot and killed the bus driver and abducted Ethan. The boy has autism, and that's how law enforcement got Dykes to open the bunker door for medicine drops.
Olson said during the drops other agents and officers were able to walk around the bunker without worrying Dykes would hear them. At one point they attached a yellow rope from the top of the bunker to a military vehicle so they could rip off the door at any time.
They also dug along the bunker to try and find out what it was made of.
"We learned a lot, what to do, not to do," Olson said.
Those tips were now passed on to those protecting New Mexicans.
"It can happen anytime, anywhere," said Torrance County Sheriff Heath White, who attended the session.
White said the tactics he learned could help if something like this were to happen here and our dispatch would get a chilling 9-1-1 call about a gunman on a school bus.
FBI agents rescued the boy about a week after he was abducted. They killed Dykes in the raid.
How the agents got inside is still a secret to the news media, which was not allowed to hear the entire conference.
Departments from across the state were at the conference which Olson said is important because 45 law enforcement agencies worked together during the week long Alabama crisis.
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