Authorities have not released the name of the suspected gunman. But neighbors and news outlets around Midland City identified him as 65-year-old Jimmy Lee Dykes, a Vietnam veteran and a retired truck driver.
Neighbor Jimmy Davis told CNN that Dykes began digging a hole on his property soon after he moved in down the road from him.
Davis, who works a night shift, said Dykes worked on his bunker in the middle of the night — every other night, between 2 and 3 a.m., for a year and a half.
He was friendly and welcoming and told Davis the hole would be a storm shelter.
But Tim Byrd, chief investigator with the Dale County Sheriff’s Office, told the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch that Dykes had “anti-America” views.
“His friends and his neighbors stated that he did not trust the government, that he was a Vietnam vet, and that he had PTSD,” Byrd told the civil rights group. “He was standoffish, didn’t socialize or have any contact with anybody. He was a survivalist type.”
ice President Joe Biden drew cheers from the nation’s biggest civil rights group on Thursday with a fiery defense of President Barack Obama’s record, and he warned that the election of Republican Mitt Romney could reverse years of economic and civil rights gains for blacks.
The day after Romney was booed during an appearance before the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People convention, Biden said Republicans had blocked Obama’s efforts at every turn and their policies would halt progress for blacks in housing, education and a variety of economic issues.
“Their discipline has been amazing. They have never let up. But neither has my guy, Barack Obama,” Biden said. “This election, in my view, is a fight for the heart and soul of America. These guys aren’t bad guys, but they have a fundamentally different view.”
It was a rousing speech to a friendly crowd by Biden, who has proved to be a passionate campaigner for Obama, drawing on his folksy charm and connection with working-class America.
Biden asked the audience to imagine what a Romney presidency would mean for the Justice Department, the Supreme Court and voting rights.
“This is not your father’s Republican Party,” said Biden, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “They see a future where voting is made harder, not easier.”
He condemned Republican support for voter ID laws that critics say will disenfranchise many black voters.
“Did you think we’d be fighting these battles again?” he asked the crowd, which roared “No!” in reply.