Uber driver held in shooting deaths of 6 in Kalamazoo, Michigan


Police in Kalamazoo on Sunday apprehended an Uber driver they believe shot and killed six people and seriously wounded two others during a series of apparently random attacks that spanned four hours Saturday evening.

A total of eight people were shot in three locations Saturday as the gunman drove around shooting victims, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said.

Jason Dalton, 45, has no prior criminal record and was taken into custody without a struggle, Getting said.

“He was cooperative. … He seemed pretty even-tempered,” Getting said. “How do you go and tell the families of these victims they weren’t targeted for any other reason than they were there to be a target?”

Uber released a statement late Sunday morning confirming that Dalton was an Uber driver and said he had passed a background check.

“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan,” Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber, said in the statement. “Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this devastating crime and those recovering from injuries. We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can.”

Michigan State Police identified four of the victims this morning: Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda; Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek; Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek; and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek.
Police believe Dalton began the attacks at an apartment complex outside Kalamazoo at about 6 p.m. Saturday, shooting a woman four times in the parking lot. The woman was in serious condition, police said.

A father and son were then shot at 10 p.m., while sitting in their cars at a Kalamazoo car dealership 8 miles from the apartment complex. About 15 minutes later, four people were shot and killed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant 4 miles from the car dealership, police said. A 14-year-old girl was seriously wounded there.

Police initially said the teen had been killed, putting the death toll at seven. Getting said Sunday morning that the the girl was “severely, gravely” injured, but still alive.

“Call it a miracle,” Getting added. “I’m gonna cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope like hell (she survives).”

Each victim was shot multiple times, he said.

A vehicle driven by a suspect in multiple shootings sits at at Ransom and Porter streets in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich., after the driver was arrested early Sunday morning, Feb. 21, 2016, in Kalamazoo. A man drove around Kalamazoo shooting people at three locations Saturday, including a Cracker Barrel restaurant and a Ford dealership, leaving six dead and three injured, two of them critically, police said. Ed Finnerty/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP, AP
“What it looks like is we have someone just driving around, finding people and shooting them dead in their tracks,” Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told CNN. “This is your worst nightmare, when you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people.”

Dalton was arrested at about 12:40 a.m. Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo and and had weapons in his vehicle, Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz told WZZM-TV. Authorities do not believe anyone else is involved. The investigation into Dalton’s motive is ongoing.

“The threat to the public is over,” Matyas said.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued condolences via Twitter, saying, “The families of Kalamazoo victims are in our thoughts today.” Snyder thanked law enforcement “for a quick arrest.”

Dalton likely will face multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder when he appears before a judge Wednesday in a Kalamazoo County courtroom, Getting said.

Little is known about Dalton, who lives on a quiet rural road in Kalamazoo Township, just outside the city. Calls by USA TODAY to his parents, who also live in Kalamazoo, were unanswered Sunday morning.

It’s possible Dalton was picking up fares mere minutes before the shooting spree began. A girl – whose name is not being used by the Free Press — on Saturday posted on Facebook at 5:33 p.m. that her boyfriend was picked up by an Uber driver named Jason who was driving erratically, blowing through a stop sign and sideswiping another car. That post came up just about a half-hour before the killing spree started.

She posted a photo of the man, who matches the police mug shot of Dalton, and said he was driving a Chevrolet Equinox SUV. Kalamazoo Gazette photos later show police searching an Equinox.

The girl said 911 was called “but surprisingly they didn’t seem all that concerned.

“Hoping this man will be arrested or hospitalized soon if he has a medical condition causing his behavior,” she said. The Facebook post has since been deleted but the Free Press obtained a copy of it.

Kalamazoo, with a population of about 75,000, is about 150 miles west of Detroit.