KALAMAZOO, Mich. — The man accused of killing six people and injuring two more in a Saturday evening shooting rampage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was an Uber driver who picked up and dropped off passengers between shootings, a source with knowledge of the investigation said.
The source, who is not authorized to speak to media, said investigators believe Jason Dalton was even looking for fares after the final shooting of a nearly seven-hour killing rampage.
The ride-sharing company confirmed that Dalton, 45, was an Uber driver and said he had passed a background check.
“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo,” Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan said in a statement. “We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can.”
Michigan State Police said the first shooting was reported at 5:42 p.m., after a woman was shot multiple times in an apartment complex parking lot. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting said the woman — who was with her three children — is in serious condition, but expected to survive.
Then, more than four hours later, a father and son were shot and killed at a car dealership. Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said the pair were there looking at a vehicle. Police have not yet released their names.
Minutes later, at around 10:24, Michigan State Police say Dalton pulled his Chevy HHR into a Cracker Barrel restaurant parking lot and opened fire on a Chevrolet Cruze and an Oldsmobile minivan, killing Mary Lou Nye, 62; Mary Jo Nye, 60; Dorothy Brown, 74; and Barbara Hawthorne, 68.
A fifth victim, a 14-year-old girl riding in the Chevrolet’s front passenger seat, was initially thought to have been killed as well, but is now listed in critical condition, according to the state police. “Call it a miracle,” said Getting. “But she’s alive now.”
After another two hours or so, at approximately 12:40 a.m., police took Dalton, 45, into custody, ending a nearly seven-hour nightmare.
Police seized a semiautomatic handgun from Dalton, whom Getting described as “even-tempered” at the time of his arrest.
“There is just no question more people would have died if (police) didn’t find him when they did,” Getting said.
The cruel randomness of the rampage seemed to rattle officials in the western Michigan city.
“This is your worst nightmare,” Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told WOOD-TV. “When you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people.”
“We just can’t figure out the motive,” said Hadley. “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.”
Getting appeared to struggle at times for the right words, if there were any, at Sunday’s press conference.
“There is this sense of loss, anger, (and) fear,” he said. “On top of that, how do you tell the families of these victims that they were not targeted for any other reason than they were a target?”
Getting said he was confident that Dalton acted alone, and that there is no connection to terrorism. Formal charges will be brought Monday, he said.
“I would expect six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder, six counts of felony firearm, and then we’ll see from there.”
For the last 10 years, Sally and Gary Pardo have lived across the street from Dalton’s single-family home on Douglas Street in Kalamazoo.
Sally Pardo said Dalton is married with two children, and that they seemed to be a “typical American family.”
“This seems so out of sorts for him,” said husband Gary Pardo, who described Dalton as “quiet” and “nice.”
He did say, however, “I know he liked guns.”
Getting, the prosecutor, said he didn’t know if Dalton had a license for the handgun that was seized at the time of his arrest.