The Dale County Board of Education has established a scholarship fund in the name of Charles Poland, Jr., the school bus driver who was shot and killed on Jan. 29 while attempting to protect about 20 school children after an armed neighbor illegally came on board and demanded two children. The scholarship is also in the name of 5-year-old student "Ethan," who was subsequently held hostage by the shooter for more than six days.
Donny Bynum, Dale County's superintendent, said in a release that donations can be made to the Dale County Board of Education at: 113 Reynolds Street, Ozark, AL 36360. Donations can also be made directly to: The Commercial Bank at 208 South Merrick Avenue, Ozark, AL 36360.
Jimmy Lee Dykes reportedly boarded the bus and demanded that Poland hand over two of the students, but Poland used himself as a human shield between Dykes and the children, allowing the latter to escape through the rear emergency exit. According to a CBS News report developed from viewing the onboard school bus surveillance system, Ethan was at the front of the bus and was unable to escape "and just freezes."
Dykes and Poland continued to argue for several minutes over the boy. Dykes threatened to shoot Poland, who earlier in the day had delivered a pie to Dykes' address to thank him for fixing a speed bump on the bus route, and finally did shoot him three times. Dykes then fled with Ethan to a nearby, homemade bunker on Dykes' property. After hostage negotiations broke down Monday, an FBI special forces team raided Dykes' bunker, shot and killed him and rescued Ethan unharmed.
Poland, 66 died from his gunshot wounds, and was memorialized and laid to rest over the weekend.
Meanwhile, Bynum said that local residents could drop off birthday cards for Ethan at a local church.