Neighbors described Dykes as a man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property, and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a firearm. Michael Creel said Dykes had an adult daughter, but the two lost touch years ago.
His property has a white trailer that, according to Creel, Dykes said he bought from FEMA after it was used to house evacuees from Hurricane Katrina. The property also has a steel shipping container — like those on container ships — in which Dykes stores tools and supplies.
Next to the container is the underground bunker where authorities say Dykes is holed up with the 5-year-old. Neighbors say the bunker has a pipe so Dykes could hear people coming near his driveway. Authorities have been using the ventilation pipe to communicate with him.
The younger Creel, who said he helped Dykes with supplies to build the bunker and has been in it twice, said Dykes wanted protection from hurricanes.
"He said he lived in Florida and had hurricanes hit. He wanted someplace he could go down in and be safe," Creel said. Authorities say the bunker is about 6 feet by 8 feet, and the only entrance is a trap door at the top.
Such bunkers are not uncommon in rural Alabama because of the threat of tornadoes.
Greg Creel was a friend of Dykes', but he said he would not comment for The Associated Press. "I will only talk to the police and the FBI," he said.
"He was very into what's going on with the nation and the politics and all the laws being made. The things he didn't agree with, he would ventilate," Michael Creel said.
James Arrington, police chief of the neighboring town of Pinckard, put it differently.
"He's against the government, starting with Obama on down," he said.
Morris Dees of Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, a group that tracks hate crimes, said Dykes was not on the group's radar.
Although the fatal shootings in December at a school in Newtown, Conn., are still on everyone's mind, Dees said he doesn't think Dykes was trying to be a copycat.
"Probably not. He had a whole bus load full of kids, and he could have walked up there and shot the whole crowd of them," he said.
"I think he's just a really angry and bitter guy with some anger management issues," Dees said. "He is just against everything — the government and his neighbors."
Associated Press writers Tamara Lush, Jay Reeves and Philip Rawls contributed to this report.
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