Exclusive: How Cops Saved Boy From Underground Bunker


Back in the bunker, Dykes was growing more belligerent by the day. He was angry at the government and disdainful of the police.

In recordings exclusively obtained by ABC News, he began to rant at the negotiating team.

"At the end of this [expletive] day," Dykes growled, "there's going to be a determination ... as to ... just exactly what the hell is going to take place. You just go ahead and send some mother****** down that goddamn funnel over there to their death.

"You're scared," he said, taunting the police. "You know goddamn well I'm smarter than most of you [expletive]. You know goddamn well I have the knowledge, I have the experience, I have the ability and I have the balls to show just how goddamn corrupt this system is ... just how corrupt you people are."

It was clear he wanted his story told. And whatever that story was, he believed it would spark anarchy.

"You know goddamn well what I'd say when I go public," he said. "It's going to create chaos. It's going to create riots. ... People are going be standing up to this [expletive] dictatorial, incompetent, self-righteous, bunch of sorry bastards in government."

The negotiating teams believed Dykes saw only one option -- killing himself as some sort of grandiose statement.

And there was a bizarre twist.

"His intent was still going to be to commit suicide at the end of it," Agent Van Slyke said, "and to have a female reporter down there with him, and that she would hold his hand while, in fact, he got his final message out to the world and then committed suicide in her presence."

By day six, the danger to Ethan was increasing with every second. Agents wouldn't say how, but they could see and hear some of what Dykes was doing below ground, and it was not comforting. He was handling the weapons and the bomb inside the bunker on a more frequent basis.

"We knew that Jim Dykes had begun to rehearse," Agent Van Slyke said. "He had begun to prepare."

There were two scary challenges that seemed to make the situation even more dangerous and complicated. There had been so much rain that there was worry the bunker would collapse on Ethan and Dykes.

Additionally, Dykes allegedly has a diabolical plan for Ethan, according to Richardson.

"Jim Dykes relayed to the negotiators, 'If anything happens to me, I have told Ethan to pull the trigger,'" Richardson said. "That meant he had told Ethan to detonate the IED, the second IED that was inside the bunker."

He was teaching Ethan to kill himself. For the FBI and the police, it was decision time.

"We felt an increasing sense of urgency," Amman said.

Ron Hosko, who headed up the FBI's criminal division back in Washington, had been consulting with officers on the scene and been regularly briefing FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder. The final decision of what to do would involve a gut-check moment with Mueller.

"Time appeared to be running out," Hosko said. "Our on-scene commander was on the line. ... The director was there and the deputy director. And we briefed the situation."

There were no good options. With Dykes growing more angry and irrational by the hour, there was agreement that it was then or never. They had to try to take little Ethan out by force.

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