Gunman kills school bus driver in Alabama
A gunman in the US has shot dead a school bus driver, taken a six-year-old boy hostage and gone to ground surrounded by armed police.
He was thought to be hiding in a homemade bunker in Midland City, Alabama where he fled after shooting the driver when he refused to let the child off.
Police tactical units, negotiators and other officers are at the scene.
“That’s what has been described to me as an underground bunker. Someplace to get out of the way of a tornado,” a spokesman said.
Nearby residents were evacuated from their homes as a precaution.
“Authorities also confirmed the presence of a child at the scene but are giving no further information at this time,” the spokesman said.
Michael Creel, who lives on the road where the shooting happened, said he went outside after his sister heard gunshots.
“Me and her started running down the road,” he said. “That’s when I realised the bus had its siren going off. Kids were filing out, running down the hill toward the church.”
The shooting comes as Congress takes up gun control measures for the first time since the shooting of 20 young pupils in Connecticut in December.
The powerful gun lobby, the National Rifle Association, was set to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose own divided members reflect the wider debate that gun limits will face on a path through Congress that promises to be difficult.
The hearing comes after president Barack Obama this month proposed a package that includes banning military-style assault weapons, requiring background checks on all firearms purchases and limiting ammunition magazines to 10 rounds.
The US has the world’s highest rate of gun ownership, and gun sales have jumped since the Connecticut shooting, as those who insist on an absolute reading of the constitutional right to bear arms fear that the government somehow will take all their guns away.
Among those testifying Wednesday will be Mark Kelly, the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head while meeting constituents outside an Arizona supermarket in 2011. Six people were killed, and 12 were wounded.