Six Dead, Suspect Arrested After Random Shooting Rampage in Michigan

Police have arrested a 45-year-old Uber driver who may have picked up passengers between random killings in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
February 21, 2016, 2:10pm

Six people were shot to death and several others were wounded, including a 14-year-old girl, during a shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday night. The random shootings occurred in several parking lots around the western Michigan city, triggering a seven-hour manhunt that ended with the arrest of a 45-year-old Uber driver who may have picked up fares between killings.

The suspect, identified by Michigan authorities as Jason Brian Dalton, has no known criminal record. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said he was "even-tempered" when he was arrested at around 12:40am on Sunday in the parking lot of a bar in downtown Kalamazoo, a city of about 75,000 located 140 miles west of Detroit.

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The Department of Public Safety said police found a semi-automatic handgun in Dalton's vehicle, which was spotted by a sheriff's deputy based on surveillance video from the scenes of the shootings. Dalton was described as "cooperative," and authorities said the shootings were "intentional," though no motive has yet been revealed.

Related: Mass Shootings in the United States and Europe in 2016

The shooting spree began at around 6pm in the parking lot of an apartment complex, where a woman was hit multiple times in what was initially described as a drive-by shooting. She was left in serious condition and was expected to undergo surgery Sunday morning.

The next shooting occurred at a Kia car dealership at around 10pm, where a father and son were killed while shopping for a vehicle. A third incident happened 15 minutes later in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant near Interstate 94, where four people were killed. Michigan State Police identified the Cracker Barrel victims as Mary Lou Nye, 63, Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy Brown, 74, and 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne.

Police initially said that a 14-year-old girl who was wounded in the Cracker Barrel shooting had died, but authorities said Sunday morning that she is still alive and in serious condition.

After the shootings, Michigan authorities began searching for a dark colored Chevy HHR SUV with chrome wheels. The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said that employees at the car dealership and Cracker Barrel were "instrumental" in providing information to police that led to Dalton's capture.

Dalton was an Uber driver who may have picked up passengers in between the shootings at the car dealership and the Cracker Barrel. One woman who claims her fiancé rode in Dalton's vehicle on Saturday night posted a message to Facebook that said he was "driving VERY erratically," and did not stop after sideswiping another car. Police said during the manhunt that the suspect's vehicle may have been damaged.

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BREAKING: We've talked to woman who posted about bad Uber driver before shooting. Doesn't want to comment right now. — Luke Stier (@LukeStier)February 21, 2016

Prosecutors are reportedly investigating the Facebook post.

According to Michigan's WOOD-TV, local authorities are also investigating reports that Dalton dropped off a group of passengers at the Fairfield Inn Marriott in Texas Township, which is next door to the Cracker Barrel. People at the hotel reportedly said police were seen interviewing the passengers after the shooting, which occurred moments after they arrived.

Uber's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, reportedly confirmed that Dalton was a driver and said he passed a background check.

"We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan," Sullivan said in a statement, according to Detroit's WDIV-TV. "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."

Authorities believe Dalton acted alone, but they're not sure why.

"As to a motive, that's one of the things we are working hard to try to establish," Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said according to local news site MLive.com.

Related: Mass Shootings Have Already Killed More Americans This Year Than Guns Killed People in Japan in 2014

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He said there was no apparent connection between between Dalton and the victims: "They appear to have been chosen at random because they were available."

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas called the rampage a "worst case scenario" and described the shootings as "random murders."

"This is every community's nightmare — when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason," he said, according to the Associated Press. "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."

Dalton is set to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

Follow Keegan Hamilton on Twitter: @keegan_hamilton