Authorities have not released the name of the man they suspect to be the gunman. But neighbors and news outlets around Midland City identified him as Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, 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.
Now, the bunker Dykes dug is four feet deep, and Dykes has been known to stay there for up to eight days, said James Arrington, police chief in Pinckard, Alabama.
It wasn't clear what supplies were in the bunker Thursday, Arrington said.
Tim Byrd, chief investigator with the Dale County Sheriff's Office, told the Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch that Dykes was a "survivalist type" with "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."
The court date
On Wednesday, the day after the standoff began, Dykes was supposed to appear in court to answer to charges that he'd shot at Davis during a December argument over the dirt road that separated their homes.
Davis was moving out when his truck -- hauling a trailer -- dug ruts into the dirt speed bump that Dykes had built up across the road.
Dykes "got mad about what he saw" and stood by the side of the road, yelling and cursing, said Davis' mother, Claudia.
He then ran to his van, got a pistol and fired two shots at the truck, the Davises said.
Fortunately, no one was hurt, including Claudia Davis' 6-month-old daughter, who was inside.
The Wednesday court date in nearby Ozark was for menacing, a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to six months in jail.
Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said Dykes beat her dog to death with a lead pipe and then bragged to her husband about it.
"He made it very clear that any animals or people that came onto his property would be killed," she said.
Wilbur said she complained to animal control authorities and thought that this would stop the behavior.
"He just got increasingly more bizarre," Wilbur said.