KALAMAZOO, Mich. – A gunman believed to have killed at least six people in Kalamazoo County is in custody.
The shooter chose random victims in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, car dealership and restaurant, killing six people during a nearly five-hour rampage and leaving a 14-year-old girl in critical condition, authorities said. Another person is seriously injured.
Jason Brian Dalton, 45, of Kalamazoo County, was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after the shootings began early Saturday evening, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said.
Dalton was an Uber driver who was apparently taking fares in between opening fire at the various locations, according to police.
Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described the terrifying rampage that began about 6 p.m. outside the Meadows Apartment complex in Richland Township on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times and seriously wounded.
A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 18-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at cars at Seelye Ford Kia Dealership.
An hour later, five people, four women and a teenager, were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant along I-94, Matyas said. The teenager is in critical. The four women were killed.
The fatal victims at the Seeyle Dealership were identified by Mattawan Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robin Buchler:
- Rich Smith
- Tyler Smith, 18
The fatal victims at the Cracker Barrel shooting were identified by Michigan State Police as:
- Mary Lou Nye, 63, of Baroda, Mich.
- Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek
- Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek
- Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek
Authorities are investigating reports that Dalton dropped off a group of people at a Fairfield Inn in Texas Township, then went next door to the Cracker Barrel and opened fire.
Matyas said earlier that authorities did not believe the shootings were targeted at specific people, describing them as "our worst case scenario."
"These are random murders," Matyas said.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Dalton will likely face multiple counts of first-degree murder and attempted murder.
“He was aware of what was going on. He was able to carry on his normal routine. These were very deliberate killings," Getting told CNN. "This wasn’t hurried in any way, shape or form. They’re on video, we’ve watched the video with law enforcement. They were intentional, deliberate and – I don’t want to say casually done, coldly done is what I want to say.”
Joe Sullivan, Chief Security Officer at Uber, confirmed that Dalton was an Uber driver and that he passed a background check.
"We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan. 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 in a statement.
The suspect was arrested around 12:40 a.m., authorities said. His vehicle, a Chevy HHR, was found leaving a local bar and was followed until backup arrived. Dalton was stopped at Ransom and Porter streets.
Matyas said the man did not resist when approached by law enforcement officers and that weapons were found in his vehicle.
"The threat to the public is over," Matyas said early Sunday.
Authorities said Dalton has no criminal record and the victims had no connection to him.
He was interviewed by multiple agencies. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said all information leads to Dalton being the only suspect and there is no reason to believe anyone else is involved. He is being lodged at the county jail.
Getting said the reports are being compiled and forwarded to his office. He anticipates Dalton to be arraigned Monday afternoon.
Gov. Rick Snyder issued the following statement:
"The victims and their families -- and the entire Kalamazoo area -- should be in everyone's thoughts today. Members of the community and law enforcement officers from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department, Kalamazoo Valley Community College and Michigan State Police who quickly came together are to be commended for their cooperation and swift response. Their actions resulted in the suspect being caught before he was able to harm anyone else through these senseless and apparently random acts of violence."
Snyder ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff for six days starting Monday as a mark of respect for the victims.
A prayer service will be held Sunday night at Centerpoint Church in Kalamazoo at 7 p.m. The church is located at 2345 N. 10th Street.