The man accused of fatally shooting six people and injuring two others on a Saturday shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Michigan has been identified as an Uber driver who picked up customers in between the shootings.
Uber, the convenient ride-sharing app, confirmed that 45-year-old Jason Brian Dalton was an employee with the company, stating he also passed a background check. According to the Daily Beast, Dalton had no criminal record prior to the seven-hour shooting spree. Though police are still searching for a motive, passengers who were picked up by Dalton on Saturday night said something was off about the driver.
From the Daily Beast:
Matt Mellen said Dalton was driving erratically when he was picked up earlier that day. “Finally once he came to a stop, I jumped out of the car and ran away,” Matt Mellen told WWMT-TV. He then called 911.
Mellen’s fiancée warned Facebook friends about Dalton, putting the driver’s face next to a cautionary note. “This uber driver named JASON drives a silver Chevy Equinox is NOT a safe ride,” Mackenzie Waite wrote. “They sideswiped [sic] a car blowing through the stop sign […] this man proceeded to drive 80 mph down west main swerving in and out of oncoming traffic.”
The shooting spree began at about 5:45 p.m. when a woman, who was with her three children, was shot in an apartment complex parking lot. The woman, who has not been named, is expected to live.
Four hours later, a father and a son – identified as Richard Smith, 53, and Tyler Smith, 17 – were fatally shot at a Kia dealership while browsing cars. A short while later, police believe Dalton drove to a Cracker Barrel restaurant and opened fire, killing four people in the parking lot and injuring a 14-year-old girl in a vehicle. The fatalities, all women, were identified as retired English teacher Mary Lou Nye, 62; Jo Nye, 60; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; and Dorothy Brown, 74.
Right before police apprehended Dalton, the suspected gunman picked up his last customer, a man who needed a ride back to a hotel with his wife and in-laws, the Beast reports.
“I jokingly said to the driver, ‘You aren’t the shooter, are you?’ And he either shook his head or said no, and I said, ‘Are you sure?’” he told NPR. “And his response wasn’t like what you would expect, like a laugh, like a ‘No, not me.’ It was just very calm and quiet. ‘I’m just tired. No, I’m just tired.’”
At approximately 12:40 a.m., police stopped Dalton on the road and arrested him. Uber released a statement to CNN following the arrest of their employee.
“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo,” Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan said. “We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can.”
Investigators say Dalton did not know the victims.
“We just can’t figure out the motive,” said [Jeff] Hadley, the public safety chief. “There’s nothing that gives us any indication as to why he would do this or what would have triggered this. The victims did not know him; he did not know the victims.”
An investigation continues.
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