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'Kalamazoo killer' gave Uber rides in between shooting six dead

Two others wounded in chilling Saturday night rampage

By Iain Thomson, 22 Feb 2016

An Uber driver suspected of killing six people and wounding two others in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Saturday night was picking up fares between the shootings.

"We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo," said Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Uber, in a statement.

"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."

Jason Dalton, 45, has been charged with murder after he was arrested in the small hours of Sunday morning. He was detained after a gunman went on a shooting rampage at 6pm local time. The first victim was a woman was shot repeatedly near her home. She is expected to live.

Hours later, at around 10.15pm, a teenager and his father were shot dead as they waited outside a car lot in the city. Fifteen minutes later four women were shot dead at a restaurant, with a 14 year-old girl left critically injured in hospital.

A few hours later, Dalton was arrested after being seen leaving a bar in a vehicle that matched that of the shooter. Police found a semi-automatic handgun in his car, and said that he appeared to have been carrying out Uber rides that evening during the deadly spree.

Resident Matt Mellen told news station WWMT that he had taken an Uber ride from Dalton about an hour before the first shooting and feared for his life after going on a very wild ride.

"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. "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's girlfriend put out a Facebook post warning friends about the driver and the two contacted the police and Uber, but by the time the police called back the shootings had already started.

One passenger told NBC affiliate WoodTV that he and his family decided to get an Uber home at around midnight after hearing about the shootings. They were picked up by Dalton and delivered safely to their hotel, although the conversation one passenger had with the suspected shooter was a little unsettling.

"My father mentioned from the back seat, you know, the situation with the shooter," the passenger, identified only as Derek, said. "I kind of jokingly said to the driver, 'You're not the shooter, are you?' He gave me some sort of a 'no' response ... shook his head.

"I said, 'Are you sure?' And he said, 'No, I'm not, I'm just tired,'" Derek continued. "And we proceeded to have a pretty normal conversation after that."

Uber has reportedly confirmed that Dalton was one of its drivers and had passed a background check. Dalton appeared in court on Monday, and was denied bail ahead of his trial. He remained silent and did not enter a plea. ®

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