U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Special Agents Brocklyn Bahe, Rodney Draper, Christian Galeski, Joseph Montoya, and Matthew Nagle

Federal Bureau of Investigation

On January 29, 2013, a suspect boarded a school bus in rural Midland City, Alabama, demanding that two children be handed over to him as hostages. When the bus driver refused to comply, the suspect shot him multiple times, killing him in front of more than 20 young children. The suspect then grabbed a 5-year-old boy with Asperger syndrome and took him to a fortified underground bunker he had constructed on his property.
Armed with multiple weapons and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and holding the young hostage, the suspect continued to make incoherent and unreasonable demands, holding law enforcement at bay for 6 days. During this period, the FBI’s HRT continued to gather intelligence, clear surrounding structures of IEDs, and develop a tactical resolution plan in the event negotiations failed.
The suspect became increasingly frustrated as his demands were not met. On the evening of February 3, 2013, the suspect stated to the negotiators that if his demands were not met the next day, he would “force” the action. He also indicated that anyone coming into the bunker would be killed in his “funnel of death.” Based on information received from negotiators and continuous surveillance of the suspect, the FBI assessed that negotiations would likely fail to resolve the situation and that the suspect would likely follow through on his threat to harm his hostage.
On the afternoon of February 4, 2013, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) received the order to conduct a rescue attempt on the bunker. The initial breach required a five-man entry team composed of Special Agents Brocklyn Bahe, Joseph Montoya, Christian Galeski, Matthew Nagle, and Rodney Draper to first clear the bunker hatch. The entry team immediately encountered obstacles placed in the opening by the suspect. As the entry team’s progress slowed, the suspect retrieved his handgun and, from a position of cover and using the hostage as a shield, engaged the team from less than 5 feet away. During this initial assault, the suspect also detonated an IED that was outside of the bunker and was believed to be in the process of attempting to detonate a second IED inside the bunker.
Without regard for their own safety, several HRT operators worked to clear the obstructions in the face of heavy gunfire. The entry team then dropped through the darkened, smoke-filled opening to the bunker and fell 10 feet to the floor. With his weapon dislodged from the impact of the landing, Special Agent Bahe lunged unarmed into the darkness and found the suspect. Special Agent Bahe then shielded the hostage with his body while Special Agents Montoya, Galeski, Nagle, and Draper followed immediately behind and engaged the suspect in a mortal struggle.

The exceptional courage and extraordinary decisiveness of these five men ultimately prevailed, resulting in the death of the suspect and the rescue of the hostage who was unharmed.