In Midland City, a town of about 2,400 nestled among peanut and cotton fields, residents were relieved that the boy was safely rescued from Dykes, a Vietnam-era veteran described by neighbors as an unstable menace who beat a dog to death and threatened to shoot trespassers.
Children and teachers were trying to get back to normal, though some children who were on the bus where Dykes killed the driver on Jan. 29 have not yet returned to school, said Donny Bynum, superintendent of Midland City schools. Counselors and clergy are at the school to help any distraught students.
Officials hope to eventually throw a party to celebrate the boy's sixth birthday and to honor the memory of Charles Albert Poland Jr., the slain bus driver. No date has been set, Bynum said.
At the hospital, the boy gave his mother a big hug. Officers gave him a teddy bear, the sheriff said.
"He's just a bundle of joy," Olson said.
For now, the boy's family just wants things to go back to normal — for all the reporters to go home, for him to be like any other kid.
"He has gone through a terrible ordeal, and I don't know if he will ever get over it," said Debra Cook, the boy's great aunt. "I just want him to be all right."
Associated Press writer Phillip Rawls in Montgomery, Ala., and Lolita Baldor in Washington contributed to this report.
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