For many people in the Wiregrass it still seems like a nightmare.
“She started crying. She said my son, my son is at your church. Something has happened on the bus,” said Tiffany Hollis, Executive Pastor Destiny Church.
“I got the call. They said, ‘Mean man snapped. He shot somebody,’” said Rhonda Wilbur.
That man is Jimmy Lee Dykes, 66. Wilbur lived across the street from him.
On January 29, 2013, Dykes walked onto a Dale County school bus demanding hostages. The bus driver, Charles Poland, tries to protect the children, but Dykes shoots and kills him.
Five-year-old Ethan Gilman is dragged to an underground bunker.
The nightmare is just beginning.
“veryone with the FBI was all there for one purpose. That’s to help. We asked for help they came,” said Dale County Sheriff Wally Olsen.
For six days FBI agents, state police and other officers from around Alabama work to rescue Ethan.
Olsen said, “Dykes gave us some stipulations and deadlines and told us if you don't do what I tell you it's going to hit the fan.”
With no reason to doubt him, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team breaches the bunker. Dykes is killed, and Ethan is safe.
Olsen said his rescue wouldn't be possible without unity among law enforcement.
“That's one of the biggest lessons. The amount of personnel it took. When you have that many law enforcement in one place you have that many personalities. For everybody to have not lost focus of their main goal it says a lot.”
Many people are still getting used to a new normal. Oftentimes reflecting on the week their small community became a national headline.
“There were a lot of uplifting things that bring me back to tears. The people who would stop and pray,” said Wilbur.
Hollis said, “The resources that were provided, the around the clock volunteer service, because this community came here and left a spirit of giving and unity that same spirit still abides here at destiny church.
Olsen said, “I think from now on when I go down 231 when I pass destiny church I'll reflect and I'll remember.”
Remember the volunteers, the teamwork, and the heroes.
Many people have expressed concern about the state of Dyke’s property.
The Dale County Probate Judge said Dyke's daughter, Cynthia Dykes, has petitioned for administration of the estate. She did that back in August.
It has to be in probate for six months before you can do a final settlement. Her attorney can file for that on February 16.
Until then, all of Dyke's property remains in his name.