Man recounts harrowing Uber ride with Kalamazoo suspect

KALAMAZOO, Mich. -- An Uber passenger says he called the police to report an erratic driver more than an hour before authorities allege the driver began shooting people at random, killing six and wounding two others before being arrested.

See Full Article

Matt Mellen told WWMT-TV in Kalamazoo that Jason Dalton picked him up at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He said Dalton introduced himself as "Me-Me" and that he sat in front, since Dalton had his dog in the backseat.

Mellen said about a mile into the trip, Dalton got a phone call and that when he hung up, he began driving erratically, blowing through stop signs and sideswiping cars.

"We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along and when we came to a stop, I jumped out the car and ran away," said Mellen. He said he called the police and that when he got to his friend's house, his fiancee posted a warning to friends on Facebook.

Mellen said he also tried warning the ride-hailing service.

"I'm upset because I tried contacting Uber after I had talked to the police, saying that we needed to get this guy off the road," said Mellen.

Several people have come forward since Dalton's arrest to say they Dalton picked them up for Uber in the hours after the first attack and before his arrest. The Associated Press could not immediately those accounts, though.

Authorities allege that Dalton shot the first victim outside of an apartment complex shortly before 6 p.m. and that he shot seven others over the next several hours. Dalton, 45, was arrested without incident early Sunday morning after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot.

He was expected to be arraigned later Monday.

Authorities have not provided a motive for what they said was his targeting of victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other in the Saturday night shootings.

"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 at a Sunday news conference.

County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6 p.m. Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 17-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at cars at a car dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, Matyas said. Four of them died.

"These are random murders," he said.

Matyas declined to disclose anything found in Dalton's vehicle, except for a semi-automatic handgun.

By midday Sunday, authorities were investigating a Facebook post that indicated that Dalton was driving for Uber during the manhunt and had taken at least one fare, Getting said.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton was a driver for the company, but she declined to say whether he was driving Saturday night.

Uber prohibits both passengers and drivers from possessing guns of any kind in a vehicle. Anyone found to be in violation of the policy may be prohibited from using or driving for the service.

A man who knows Dalton said he was a married father of two who never showed any signs of violence.

Gary Pardo Jr., whose parents live across the street from Dalton in Kalamazoo Township, described him as a family man who seemed fixated on cars and often worked on them.

"He would go a month without mowing his lawn but was very meticulous with his cars," Pardo said, explaining that Dalton, at times, owned a Chevrolet Camaro and two Hummer SUVs.

Progressive Insurance confirmed that he once worked for the company before leaving in 2011.

Dalton was an insurance adjuster who did auto-body estimates and once taught an auto-body repair class at an area community college, said James Block, who has lived next door to him for 17 years.

"He loved to do things outside with his kids" like taking them for rides on his lawn tractor, Block said.

Dalton's wife and children were unhurt, authorities said.

The suspect was in contact with more than one person during the rampage, authorities said, but they would not elaborate. Prosecutors said they did not expect to charge anyone else.

Authorities were interviewing Dalton and reviewing his phone. They did not know if the handgun belonged to him, Getting said.

"This is every community's nightmare -- when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason," Getting said.

Tammy George said the woman who was shot outside the apartment building is her next-door neighbour. She and her family heard the gunfire, ran outside and saw the woman on the ground.

Four bullets flew into a closet of George's home, she said. Her son, James, was playing video games with two friends a few feet away from where the bullets pierced the wall.

"I checked out the back window and saw a car speeding off," said James George, 17.

The four people killed outside the restaurant were identified as 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda and 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek.

The two victims killed at the car dealership were identified as Tyler Smith and his father, Richard, who was 53.

A 14-year-old girl wounded at the restaurant was hospitalized in critical condition.

With a population of about 75,000, Kalamazoo is about 160 miles west of Detroit. It is home to Western Michigan University and the headquarters of popular craft beer maker Bell's Brewery. The city also is known for the anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise program, which has paid college tuition of students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools for more than a decade.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • 'We need an independent media': George W. Bush says press not enemy

    World News CBC News
    Former President George W. Bush said Monday "we all need answers" on the extent of contact between President Donald Trump's team and the Russian government, and didn't rule out the idea that a special prosecutor could be necessary to lead an investigation. Source
  • Taiwan marks crackdown anniversary amid tensions with China

    World News CTV News
    TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan is marking the 70th anniversary of a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters that is widely seen as a rejection of China's claims to the self-governing island democracy. The protests that began on Feb. Source
  • Security heightened before Trump sons' visit to Vancouver

    Canada News CBC News
    The Trump Tower luxury hotel with giant uppercase chrome letters across the front has already become a magnet for protesters in Vancouver, and now, as the hotel officially opens, a visit from the polarizing U.S. president's sons is sparking renewed attention. Source
  • One dead, five hurt after plane crashes into homes in California

    World News CTV News
    RIVERSIDE, Calif. - One person was killed and five were injured when a small plane crashed into two homes Monday evening in Riverside shortly after taking off from a nearby airport, leaving fiery wreckage that nearly destroyed one of the homes, officials said. Source
  • Donald Trump: Nobody knew health care was 'so complicated'

    World News Toronto Sun
    WASHINGTON — U.S. President Donald Trump declared Monday that “nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” Yet the opposite has long been painfully obvious for top congressional Republicans, who face mounting pressure to scrap the law even as problems grow longer and knottier. Source
  • 'Fly me to the moon'; SpaceX to fly 2 people to moon next year [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — SpaceX said Monday it will fly two people to the moon next year, a feat not attempted since NASA’s Apollo heyday close to half a century ago. Tech billionaire Elon Musk — the company’s founder and chief executive officer — announced the surprising news barely a week after launching his first rocket from NASA’s legendary moon pad. Source
  • Assault charge stayed for northern B.C. politician Pat Pimm

    Canada News CTV News
    VICTORIA -- An assault charge against a member of the B.C. legislature has been stayed. A spokesman for the Criminal Justice Branch says Pat Pimm agreed to a peace bond Monday for a period of eight months that prohibits him from contacting the complainant. Source
  • Reset or re-airing of grievances? What to expect from Trump's 1st speech to Congress

    World News CBC News
    Donald Trump's prime-time speech before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday marks a big opportunity to lay out his legislative road map to the country's future. Unless, of course, the past gets in his way. Source
  • Iranian baby with heart defect delayed by travel ban doing well, say doctors

    World News CTV News
    PORTLAND, Ore. -- Physicians say a four-month-old Iranian girl with a rare heart condition who was affected by President Donald Trump's travel ban is "out of the woods" and making good progress after her life-saving surgery last Friday. Source
  • Hundreds of thousands remain without water after floods in Chile

    World News CTV News
    SANTIAGO, Chile - Hundreds of thousands of homes in communities around Chile's capital remained without water Monday as authorities struggled to restore service following floods caused by Andean rainfall. There were three confirmed deaths and 19 people were listed as missing in the flooding. Source