Multiple neighbors said the man was a 65-year-old retired truck driver. He was at the center of a standoff that entered its third day Thursday.
The neighborhood near Midland City, population 2,300, remained under siege after the shooting, with the suspect and child holed up in a bunker-type shelter on the man's property that was equipped with electricity, food and TV.
Early Thursday, dozens of police cars and rental cars that had brought FBI agents to the site were gathered on the state highway at the clay road's entrance. Some police officers milled about, guns holstered.
Homes on the road had been evacuated after authorities found what they believed to be a bomb on the property. SWAT teams earlier had taken up positions around the alleged gunman's property and police negotiators tried to win the kindergartener's safe release.
The situation remained unchanged for hours as negotiators continued talking to the suspect, Alabama State Trooper Charles Dysart told a news conference late Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, Sheriff Wally Olson said that authorities had "no reason to believe that the child has been harmed."
CBS affiliate WTVY-TV in the nearby town of Dothan reports that contact has been made with the unidentified boy and he is safe. Police communicated with the boy through a PVC pipe in the bunker.
Authorities gave no details of the standoff, and it was unclear if the suspect made any demands from the bunker, which resembled a tornado shelter.
State Rep. Steve Clouse, who met with authorities and visited the boy's family, said the bunker had food and electricity, and the youngster was watching TV.
At one point, authorities lowered medicine into the bunker for the boy after his captor agreed to it, Clouse said.
The standoff began after school Tuesday afternoon. Sheriff Wally Olson said the man shot the bus driver several times when he refused to hand over the child. The gunman then took the boy away.
"As far as we know, there is no relation at all. He just wanted a child for a hostage situation," said Michael Senn, a pastor who helped comfort other traumatized children after the attack.
The bus driver, Charles Albert Poland Jr., 66, was hailed by locals as a hero who gave his life to protect the 21 students aboard the bus.
Authorities say most of the students scrambled to the back of the bus when the gunman boarded and said he wanted two boys 6 to 8 years old.
But when the gunman went down the aisle, authorities said, Poland put his arm out to grab a pole near the front steps of the vehicle, trying to block the suspect. Authorities say that's when the driver was shot four times before the gunman grabbed one child and fled.
Asked about the suspect, neighbors said he was a man who once beat a dog to death with a lead pipe, threatened to shoot children for setting foot on his property and patrolled his yard at night with a flashlight and a shotgun.
He had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday morning to answer charges he shot at his neighbors in a dispute last month over a speed bump.
Mike and Patricia Smith, who live across the street from the man and whose two children were on the bus, said their youngsters had a run-in with him about 10 months ago.
"My bulldogs got loose and went over there," Patricia Smith said. "The children went to get them. He threatened to shoot them if they came back."
"He's very paranoid," her husband said. "He goes around in his yard at night with a flashlight and shotgun."
Another neighbor, Ronda Wilbur, said the man beat her 120-pound dog with a lead pipe for coming onto his side of the dirt road. The dog died a week later.
"He said his only regret was he didn't beat him to death all the way," Wilbur said. "If a man can kill a dog, and beat it with a lead pipe and brag about it, it's nothing until it's going to be people."
The suspect had been scheduled to appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of menacing some neighbors as they drove by his house weeks ago. Claudia Davis said he yelled and fired shots at her, her son and her baby grandson over damage the man claimed their pickup truck did to a makeshift speed bump in the dirt road. No one was hurt.
"Before this happened, I would see him at several places and he would just stare a hole through me," Davis said. "On Monday I saw him at a laundromat and he seen me when I was getting in my truck, and he just stared and stared and stared at me."