Uber says it’s “horrified and heartbroken” at the “senseless violence” after one of its drivers went on a killing spree Saturday night in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Jason Dalton, 45, killed six people in three separate shootings before being arrested. Tyler Smith, 17, and his father, Rich Smith, were killed as they looked at a car at the Seelye Auto Group dealership. Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy Brown, 74, Barbara Hawthorne, 68, and Mary Lou Nye, 62, were murdered in a Cracker Barrel parking lot near I-94. A 14-year-old girl was in critical condition from that shooting.
The first shooting wounded a woman at a townhouse complex around 6 p.m. on Saturday. The auto lot shooting was around 10 p.m. and the restaurant parking lot was targeted about 15 minutes later.
Kalamazoo police officials were asking the public Sunday to call with any tips about the crime or use the Silent Observer tip site.
Dalton, a father of two, had no criminal record and no apparent mental health issues and lived in rural Kalamazoo County. He was an adjuster for Progressive Insurance until 2011 and previously taught auto body repair at a community college, the Detroit News reported.
Half an hour before the first shooting, a woman posted a message on a Facebook with Dalton’s Uber driver photo warning that her fiancé had escaped a harrowing ride in which Dalton was “driving VERY erratically.”
“They sideswiped a car blowing through the stop sign at Henderson Castle and West Main Hill, and the driver continued driving,” Mackenzie Waite wrote. “Then this man proceeded to drive 80 mph down West Main swerving in and out of oncoming traffic.”
The man was acting “completely normal” while driving like this, she said, adding that her fiance was “pleading with this driver to pull over but he refused.” When the driver slowed down enough, the passenger was “able to get out.”
“911 was called but surprisingly they didn’t seem all that concerned,” Waite wrote. “I’m thankful that no one was hurt yet. Hoping this man will be arrested or hospitalized soon if he has a medical condition causing his behavior.”
The passenger, Matt Mellen, later told WWMT that the driver introduced himself by a different name than Jason.
“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,” Mellen said. That was around 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“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,” Mellen added.
Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, posted a statement Sunday stressing that “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,” Sullivan said.
Police are looking into reports that Dalton gave a ride to another passenger in the middle of the killing spree.
He was expected in court today for arraignment.