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Police ID suspect in Kalamazoo shooting spree who was Uber driver

KALAMAZOO, Mich — The man who police said was arrested following a series of deadly shootings on Saturday was also a registered Uber driver, according to officials with the ride sharing service, and was driving erratically while possibly continuing to take fares between the various shootings.

Jason Dalton, 45,  is currently being held in the Kalamazoo County Jail.  He is expected to be arraigned Monday afternoon, according to Kalamazoo Police Chief Jeff Hadley.

Authorities believe Dalton chose victims at random, shooting people in the parking lots of an apartment complex, car dealership and restaurant, killing at least six and seriously injuring two others, including a 14-year-old girl.

But authorities still cannot say what may have prompted Dalton of Kalamazoo County, who has no criminal record, to randomly prey on victims who had no connection to him. His home in the Kalamazoo area is also being searched Sunday morning.

Social media posts Saturday evening identify Dalton as an Uber driver who was driving erratically in Kalamazoo in the time just before the shootings started at 6:00 p.m.

Facebook post

Facebook post

Uber officials confirmed to FOX 17 on Sunday that Dalton was a registered driver and passed a background check.

“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan," Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Office at Uber, said in a statement to FOX 17.

"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.”

But a spokeswoman, Nairi Hourdajian, would not say whether 45-year-old Jason Dalton was driving for the ride-sharing service on Saturday when the shootings occurred

Uber also said its firearms policy prohibits both drivers and passengers from carrying firearms in an Uber vehicle.

Michigan State Police also confirmed to FOX 17 it's investigating reports that before Dalton allegedly opened fire at a Cracker Barrel, killing four people, he dropped off a group of people at a Fairfield Inn Marriott in Texas Township just next door. Those individuals have since been interviewed by authorities, according to Lt. Chuck Christensen with MSP.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting says he is aware of the post regarding Dalton, adding that it is part of the investigation, but he was not prepared to discuss it.

"How do you go and tell the families of these victims that they weren't targeted for any reason other than they were there to be a target?" Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said during a Sunday morning news conference.

Getting says Dalton will likely face multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder when he appears before a judge on Monday.

Dalton was arrested in a neighborhood about 12:40 a.m. after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after he left a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said Dalton did not resist when approached by law enforcement officers, and a semi-automatic handgun was discovered in his car. Matyas declined to disclose anything else police may have found in the vehicle.

"We had no problem with him," Matyas said of Dalton's apprehension. "In this particular case, we're just thankful it ended the way it did — before he could really kill anybody else."

Authorities said Dalton was in contact with more than one people during the ongoing rampage but would not elaborate about what kind of communication that involved. Prosecutors said they do not believe anyone else will be charged.

"There's no common denominator with any of these," Matyas said, before detailing each shooting. "This person was just waiting in the parking lot of the apartment complex. The one at ... the dealership, they were looking at cars. The ones at Cracker Barrel, they were just sitting in their cars. There is absolutely no common denominator."

Matyas declined to offer a possible motive.  He also said that Dalton's wife and children are fine and "were never in any danger at any point."

Getting said authorities are interviewing Dalton and reviewing his phone. He said they do not know if the handgun belonged to Dalton or was registered to him.

"This is every community's nightmare — when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason," Matyas said. "Obviously, we're going to interview the individual and we're hoping to gather ... what he was thinking, what type of methodology he used, if any, in these killings."

Getting was flanked by several law enforcement officials during Sunday morning's news conference, some of whom wiped tear-filled eyes or who had to momentarily stop speaking after becoming choked up. Following the news conference, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley embraced.

"It's hard to put into words the impact something like this has," Getting said. "How do we put an end to the fear this is causing? There's this sense of loss, there's this anger, there's fear. There's all these emotions."

Gov. Rick Snyder issued a statement early Sunday in response to the deadly shooting rampage. Snyder, who called the shooting "senseless," stopped in Kalamazoo Sunday afternoon to meet with first responders at the families who two victims who remain in critical condition.

"The victims and their families -- and the entire Kalamazoo area -- should be in everyone's thoughts today. Members of the community and law enforcement officers from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Michigan State Police who quickly came together are to be commended for their cooperation and swift response. Their actions resulted in the suspect being caught before he was able to harm anyone else through these senseless and apparently random acts of violence." 

Snyder ordered all flags in the state be lowered to half-staff beginning Monday out of respect for the victims.

Other Michigan lawmakers also offered condolences following the mass shooting.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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7 comments

  • Yup

    Why the hell didn’t they shoot this piece of shit. I and the rest of the country don’t care about him and should not have to house or feed him I commend the kzoo police force for doing your job but I’m sure someone in the the dark could have helped you. To the families who lost loved ones my heart breaks and me and my family cry for you and yours.

    • Karen

      Another officer just went on national news and said that it wasn’t a preventable act with the same statement that the investigation is complete. I don’t know why or even really care a whole lot about the outcome for this man but those officers aren’t without bias and they don’t complete their investigations in a clinical way. What that means is that they aren’t going to care about it happening to you, either. They aren’t into prevention. They might be into killing a perpetrator but by then it’s too late. The guy already got you. I feel so bad for that whole community. They have a right to have some peace in worrying about these things.

      • Karen

        I’m sorry. I typed that wrong. The officer went on the news and said the investigation was still ongoing and that it was in no way preventable.

  • Karen

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/policy-dose/2015/05/12/how-early-intervention-programs-stop-mental-illness-before-it-is-disabling To the KZoo Police Department….maybe you should stop going on the news and telling them there is no way to prevent senseless acts of violence. People spend money on your education regarding how to prevent violence. That’s your job. To keep it from happening. You might not catch every one but I know for a fact we don’t sit around and respond to an event after.

  • WRG

    where’s the reporting on this? I’m combing over all the local news websites and stations, even the national ones, and there’s NOTHING about his background. Everyone gloms onto “uber driver”, but he’s only been doing this a very short time!! what did he do before? who were his friends? who went to high school with him? he has lived in this area his whole life!! where are the GOOD reporters out hitting the streets, door to door, asking around where the people that knew this guy are at?? I’m saddened that we are so wrapped up in Farmville on Facebook or too busy tweeting about some celebrity that we no longer have real news anymore!

    surely it’s possible for someone normal to just “snap” and go crazy like this, but it seems more likely that there are some things that led up to this… so…come on reporters! do your job! get out there and find people that knew this guy! it’s not that hard!!