Published February 22, 2016
The Uber driver suspected in a series of three random shootings in Kalamazoo, Mich. over six hours admitted on Monday he carried out the seemingly random attacks that killed six people and critically injured two, a prosecutor said.
Jason Dalton waived his right against self-incrimination before making the statement to authorities, Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said.
Dalton's statements were used to file charges of murder and attempted murder Monday, two days after the rampage in the Kalamazoo. He appeared in court via video to hear the charges. He was ordered held without bond and will get a court-appointed attorney.
Multiple witnesses have come forward to describe harrowing car trips Saturday night with Dalton.
The witnesses' testimony indicates that Dalton was picking up fares in between carrying out the apparently random shootings. An Uber spokeswoman confirmed Sunday that Dalton was a driver for the ride-sharing service, but did not say whether he was working Saturday night.
Matt Mellen told WWMT that he called police to report Dalton for erratic driving more than an hour before the accused shooter began firing on his targets.
Mellen said Dalton picked him up around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and began driving very erratically after he got a phone call and hung up. He said Dalton was speeding, sideswiping cars and driving over medians and lawns. Mellen said when the vehicle came to a stop, he ran from the car and called police and also reported Dalton to Uber.
Authorities allege that Dalton shot the first victim outside of an apartment complex a little more than an hour later.
MLive reported that a Facebook post from a woman named Mackenzie Waite, who was identified as Mellen's fiance by The Washington Post, described an Uber driver named Jason as "not a safe ride". Waite's post was timestampted at 5:33 p.m. Saturday, about 30 minutes before the first shooting took place. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting confirmed to MLive that law enforcement knew about the post.
Fox17 reported that a local couple, Jamie and Kacey Black saw a man jump out of a vehicle they recognized later as Dalton's. The man told them the driver had been driving erratically and would not let him out. It was not immediately clear whether the man was Mellen.
Kacey Black said she called 911 to report the driver, but said "I felt like they didn't believe me. They just kind of laughed at me."
At 6 p.m., a woman was shot multiple times outside an apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County. She was expected to survive.
At around 7 p.m., Dalton's next door neighbor James Block told the Associated Press that his niece saw Dalton drive out his driveway. When he got to the street, he stopped and rapidly backed toward his garage, turning his vehicle so the lights shined toward Block's house, Block said. Then he drove off.
"He was there between the shootings," Block said.
A Kalamazoo man with the Twitter handle IamKeithBlack posted Sunday that Dalton had given him a ride at around 8 p.m. A receipt he posted indicated that Dalton had driven him 4.8 miles and the ride had lasted 10 minutes.
About four hours after the initial shooting and 15 miles away, a man and his son were shot to death while looking at vehicles at Seelye Kia of Kalamazoo.
Then, 15 minutes later, gunfire erupted outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Four women, including retired school teacher Mary Jo Nye, were slain. A 14-year-old girl was wounded.
At around midnight, an Indiana man visiting Kalamazoo with his wife and in-laws decided to call for an Uber ride after hearing about the shooting spree. They were told their driver's name would be Jason, and he would be driving a Chevrolet HHR.
The man, who told WOOD-TV he only wished to be identified as Derek, said the driver seemed to be aware of the news about an active shooter.
“I kind of jokingly said to the driver, ‘You’re not the shooter, are you?’ He gave me some sort of a ‘no’ response… shook his head…," Derek said.
“I said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not, I’m just tired,' and we proceeded to have a pretty normal conversation after that.”
Derek said he did not smell gunpowder or notice a weapon inside the car. WOOD-TV reported that the foursome were dropped off at a Radisson hotel at around 20 minutes after midnight following a seven-minute ride.
About 20 minutes later, Dalton was arrested without incident after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot. A semi-automatic handgun was found in the car.
If he's convicted, the murder charges carry a mandatory life sentence. Michigan does not have the death penalty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.