By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker
Just minutes before police say 45-year-old Jason Dalton embarked on a shooting spree that killed six people and critically injured two others in Kalamazoo County, a woman described a horrifying experience that her fiancé had during an Uber ride with the suspect.
“A little big ago my fiancé got a ride with him and he was driving VERY erratically,” Mackenzie Waite wrote on Facebook shortly before 6 p.m., unaware that the driver would become the subject of a massive manhunt. “They sideswiped a car blowing through the stop sign … and the driver continued driving. Then this man proceeded to drive 80mph down west main swerving in and our of oncoming traffic. Despite Matt pleading with this driver to pull over he refused.”
Police confirmed they believe Dalton was taking fares as an Uber driver on the day of the shooting spree and may have even given rides between the shootings.
Waite told me her fiancé took the Uber trip at 4:30 p.m., and he called 911 about 10 minutes later. The first shooting occurred about 80 minutes after the 911 call. More than five hours passed before the second and third shootings.
But Waite said 911 didn’t take the call seriously.
“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 ha a medical condition causing this behavior.”
Police declined to say what, if anything, authorities did to investigate the Uber driver before the second and third shooting shortly after 10 p.m.
Dalton shot and killed an 18-year-old man and his father outside of a Kia dealership in Kalamazoo. About 15 minutes later, Dalton opened fire on a van and car at a Cracker Barrel in Kalamazoo, killing four women and “gravely” injuring a 14-year-old girl.
The first shooting occurred shortly after 6 p.m. when a woman was critically injured by several bullets.
Joe Sullivan, chief security officer of Uber, said the company has offered to help police.
“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan,” Sullivan said in a written 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.”
One Twitter user said she also received a ride from Dalton, but she said he “seemed very normal.”
— sara (@sarareii) February 21, 2016
According to Uber’s policies, the company waives legal responsibility for any problems or injuries that occur during a ride.
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.