Uber driver goes on fatal shooting spree

By Catherine Herbert
Staff Writer

On the evening of Saturday, Feb. 20, six people were shot and killed while two others were injured by an Uber driver in Kalamazoo, Mich. The driver, Jason B. Dalton, has been identified as the sole perpetrator of the murderous rampage, according to the New York Times.

The most puzzling piece of this case is the apparent lack of motive behind Dalton’s actions. The timeline of the night is bizarre and disjointed, to say the least. Beginning at approximately 6 p.m., Dalton began his attacks, targeting a woman he shot multiple times outside of her apartment complex. His next victims were a father and son who were looking for cars outside of a dealership about four hours after the first attack. Directly after the second attack, he allegedly shot five people outside of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, killing four and leaving the fifth, a 14-year-old girl, in critical condition, CBS News reported.

Local authorities are struggling to find any connection between the victims in relation to each other and Dalton himself, as the complete lack of cohesion and direction of the attacks point to them being completely random in nature.

Dalton is in custody after a string of random murders between trips. AP Photo.
Dalton is in custody after a string of random murders between trips. (AP Photo)

“This is your worst nightmare, where you have somebody just driving around, randomly killing people,” Kalamazoo Sheriff Paul Matyas said, according to CBS News.

Adding another perplexing dimension to the case is looking at the man behind these vicious crimes: Dalton, 45, is a husband and father of two, described by neighbors as polite and someone who kept to himself. The only troubling thing neighbors had to say about him was the fact that he sometimes would randomly shoot his gun in his backyard. He had previously worked at an insurance company with no criminal record and passed Uber’s mandatory background check, the New York Times reported.

One of Dalton’s passengers, Matt Mellen, who was picked up mere hours before the rampage began, was interviewed after the media frenzy and reported that after answering a phone call, Dalton began to drive completely erratically — he allegedly ran multiple stop signs, drove across lawns and sped the whole way with an eerily-calm demeanor as Mellen grew increasingly terrified. According to CNN, once Dalton finally came to any kind of stop, Mellen jumped out of the car to run away, call the police and report him to Uber.

Dalton was reported to have picked up other passengers before the shootings started, and potentially even between the shootings. It was also revealed that an hour after the shootings occurred, Dalton had planned to pick up a couple from a bar. The potential passengers, completely unaware of the shootings and Dalton’s connection to them, cancelled the ride when their plans changed, according to the New York Times.

According to CNN, Dalton was arrested and taken into custody two hours after his shooting spree. ABC News reported that he was charged with “six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight charges of using firearm during the commission of a felony.”

Dalton is expected back in court on Wednesday, March 3, NBC reported.