Boy held in Ala. bunker drama reported well

Photo courtesy of FBI
Photo courtesy of FBI

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The 6-year-old Alabama boy held hostage in an underground bunker last year is doing well and shows few effects from the ordeal, his brother said Friday.

Camren Kirkland, the older brother of Ethan Gilman, said the boy has only spoken of the ordeal a few times since it ended, and he isn’t showing signs of lingering problems or stress.

“He doesn’t mention it much, and I don’t pry him for information,” Kirkland told reporters during a news conference.

While the child was having problems academically and behaviorally before the standoff, which occurred in Dale County near Midland City, Kirkland said his brother now gets far more good reports from teachers than bad ones.

“Ethan as a whole has made a lot of strides from where he was before,” said Kirkland.

A man identified by authorities as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, held Ethan hostage for six days last January and February after boarding the boy’s school bus, fatally shooting driver Charles Poland and dragging Ethan into the bunker.

After a standoff of nearly a week, officers rescued the child unharmed after storming the bunker and killing Dykes.

Ethan lived with his mother and grandmother before the standoff, but Kirkland, who described himself as 17 years older than Ethan, said the boy now lives with him.

“I treat him more like a son than I do a brother,” Kirkland said.

Ethan wants to be a race car driver or an airplane mechanic when he grows up, Kirkland said, “and I’m going to do everything I can to help him.”

Kirkland said he and the boy will attend a memorial being planned at Dale County High School in memory of Poland, the bus driver.

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