Chicago, Feb 21: A man arrested early today on suspicion of shooting dead six people in the northern US state of Michigan was an Uber driver who may have been picking up fares just before the killing spree began.
Uber confirmed that the suspect, 45-year-old Jason Brian Dalton, was a driver for the ride-sharing company, adding he had passed a background check and had no criminal record. "We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can," Uber's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, said in a statement.
Dalton was apprehended at 12:40 AM today. He is believed to be the gunman who opened fire at three different locations in the city of Kalamazoo, killing six people and seriously wounding two others, police said. A woman was seriously wounded outside an apartment complex, two people were killed at a car dealership, and four more were shot to death and a teenage girl seriously wounded at a chain restaurant.
Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting said Dalton, who surrendered without incident during a traffic stop, will face murder charges in court tomorrow. There is "no reason to believe" more than one person was involved in the crime, Getting added. Local resident Matt Mellen said he was Dalton's passenger just a couple of hours before the rampage began, and was taken on a hair-raising ride.
"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 told WWMT, a CBS affiliate. "He wouldn't stop. He just kind of kept looking at me like -- 'Don't you want to get to your friend's house' and I'm like, I want to get there alive."
Mellen said he jumped out of the car at 4:30 PM, and called 911, the phone number for emergencies. He told his fiancee what had happened and she posted Dalton's picture on Facebook as a warning to others. "We're looking into his connection to Uber and whether or not he was picking up fares in between the shootings," Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said, according to CNN.
The shootings began at 6:00 PM. "What it looks like is we have somebody driving around, finding people and shooting them dead in their tracks," Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told local media.
"This is your worst nightmare, when you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people," he added. The gunman's first victim was a woman who was with her three children outside an apartment complex when she was shot, he said. She was seriously wounded but is expected to survive.