The Boy in the Bunker

An armed madman took Ethan off a school bus and held him hostage in an Alabama bunker for six days.
8:04 | 02/08/13

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Transcript for The Boy in the Bunker
Incredible drama that unfolded in Alabama this week David -- spoke exclusively with the family at -- and are so grateful to have a little boy home Elizabeth as you know tonight the first video of -- After being rescued and his sixth birthday party. And tonight right here the FBI reveals why they thought Ethan was about to die why they made that call to move in and save the boy when they did. I. Few had ever heard it -- city Alabama for the peaceful southern town population 2300. Town that relies on its face. And no one here ever dreamed that they could be tested after what happened on an ordinary school -- at the end of an ordinary school day. Set off a sixty seat. -- there. It all began when bus driver -- -- 66 years old known for calling the school children these kids. While the bus to a -- flagged down by 200 dykes lived along the bunch. -- would immediately -- demands he wanted to of the children on that bus. Sitting up front his favorite scene of five who were being beaten. Tell me where he's listening to his enemy attack has seen he had -- name -- of scary -- sixteenth. -- singletary was on the bus would you didn't she showed us where she was sitting in the back he could hear it was terrifying demands that the front was that we city -- threatening. What was he sends his. I'll catch up while total is ally who has really jealous. I was she showed associate the other children garage behind their -- -- fingers toward years I'm afraid of gunshots were coming. The driver tried to throw the bus and reverse shot several times with. He was dead -- gunman grabbed the first child he could get to. -- Out of all. And had a cavity I'm not playing the game. -- -- And the children watched as dikes hold eaten away. They knew they had to get themselves off that bus back through that front door walking past the bus driver mr. Poland and slump -- And by -- and Ethan was gone. The shooter Jimmie Lee dykes -- take him onto his property and down through a hatch into a bunker he made himself. 20/20 obtaining this video from the neighbor across the street the first moments after police arrived. The entire neighborhood under lockdown and Rhonda Wilbur who lives across from -- got a frantic text from her husband and son. We're still at home. That -- Meaning and finally did it. He shots at Stratford. So people who lived all around here call him mean yes we're hearing -- Harvard then one can opt for. And -- and needs in this town -- -- -- -- as they all called him Jimmy Lee -- it was a man neighbors had grown to fear. A decorated navy veteran he'd grown suspicious of the government he was known for his rants that he was always carrying a gun. He usually advise him at least a rifle -- -- You thought for years. He was a ticking time -- yes. I don't think that there's a single person on the road that he didn't threaten to kill at one point or another patron can -- -- for he threatened to kill us all yes. Now he was underground and he -- primitive bunker just six by eight feet from the east. We would all soon learn is autistic. Not only was his mother terrified for safety she was terrified how he might react held underground by a stranger. Do you believe he had planned to take a child in of that. -- yes 100%. He had a very specific plan he was a very methodical. Very detailed and through our communications with that the negotiators. He was very proud of his plan. That plan was just now place. The only way to do that Welker but trap door -- -- swat teams and negotiators began the careful task of trying to get -- and out. The only way to communicate its first through a ventilation and into the bunker. Business. We have no rain played. It sound -- all. Right. They could hear -- they could hear he's -- to this quiet. Here is. Access -- care. And to -- his mother anguish she could not hold her hand and the boy who loved to be hugs. How do you tell mother. There's going to be OK when her -- and that bunker. She asked -- this question she's. Pastor. What a -- done wrong. -- older brother Cameron never leaving their mother's side speaking to 20/20 for the first time. When the hardest things. For your family was was not being able to hug him because he can most of behind drink that's correct and it was very hard not -- physically touch and -- him in. You know -- really be there for him. The shooter negotiators could also hear something else TV on in the bunker they -- -- another way to reach dikes. The country was watching. When you came out and say thank you for taking care of excellence Paula thank you for taking care of our job. You were talking had its. Its top American. You knew exactly what you were doing and saying that -- They're trying to keep the call -- They were also try to keep Ethan called convincing -- to allow them to drop in his medicine. Coloring books a toy car toy dinosaur. Even cheese -- crackers and how would they get those items in. Through the -- but through the hatch at the top of the bunker we're told to leave him -- -- order to get away. And he would reach out -- grants from. And they would listen for -- reactions of the toys and those were the only moments of joy -- -- the clock was running in the hours had turned into -- east sixteen frantically looking for more ways to watch -- Convincing him to allow a cell -- him. There was overhead surveillance. And somehow -- speak to camera into the bunker to. The FBI won't say how they got a digital publishing could actually see you could hear what was going on -- I can just say we have a really good idea what was going. -- -- -- From the because they knew what was unfolding -- that bunker -- -- team to send text messages to you can smother his family. And those messages were enough to keep them going. And we did no wind. At times he was asleep. I was going around pocket. So they would at least -- -- tell you he's gone to bed for the night yes we normally it takes or something AFL honestly. Was that at least some comfort that was -- America America Mexico. -- was demanding the reporter -- camera -- in so that he could send out of message what his motive was still unclear. Authorities knew that option would not work in the day -- at work at a makeshift bunker practicing not far from the real bunker where -- was being held. Can if -- Russian thing you can thank the wrong way his life. -- -- As the days wore on nearly a -- now in that bunker -- was deteriorating and suddenly so -- He feared he would spiral out of control. How close do you think his mother was students' needs and I thought it was going on. We all thought it was Peter Cleary was going on weekends he made it very clear that he was executed as planned. And that was -- --

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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