Aaron Poland consoles his mom as friends and family gather to pay respects for Charles "Chuck" Poland at the Ozark Civic Centre in Ozark.

Chicago -

Friends and family on Sunday mourned the death of an Alabama school bus driver shot by a gunman who snatched a five-year-old boy and has held him in an underground bunker for six days.

Police say Jimmy Lee Dykes, a retired trucker aged 65, shot bus driver Charles Albert Poland to death on Tuesday when he tried to block the gunman, and then abducted the boy.

There was still no indication that the child was physically hurt and he has received medication, colouring books and toys, The Opelika-Auburn News cited authorities as saying. He also got Cheez-It crackers.

State police and other law enforcement officials are communicating regularly with the kidnapper, reportedly through a narrow ventilation pipe sticking out of the bunker.

Dykes has been known to stay in his underground bunker for up to eight days, neighbours, who have evacuated the area, told ABC News.

A woman who lives next door to the boy said his mother was worried about the well-being of her autistic son.

“He has behaviour problems, and she doesn't want him to get in one of those moods where he's uncontrollable,” Cindy Steiner told the television network. “She's scared what would happen.”

Ahead of funeral services for Poland, Destiny Church Dothan pastor Jevon Goode tweeted to his congregation: “We are expecting a move of God for the community!”

Poland is being remembered as a hero.

“The bus driver kept saying, 'Just please get off the bus,' and (Dykes) said, 'Ah, all right, I'll get off the bus,” witness Terrica Singletary, 14, told ABC News.

“He just tried to back up and reverse and - Dykes - pulled out the gun and he just shot him, and he just took Ethan.” - Sapa-AFP