By Steve Neavling
The 45-year-old Uber driver who went on a deadly shooting spree in Kalamazoo last month told police that the ride-hailing app “controlled his mind and body” and made “him act like a puppet.”
Jason Dalton said he experienced “a full body takeover” and doesn’t remember much of the Feb. 20 rampage that left six dead and two critically injured, according to police reports obtained by Motor City Muckraker.
“I asked Dalton what made him get his gun tonight and he said the Uber app made him,” an investigator said in the report.
“Dalton told us that literally when he logged onto the (Uber app), it started making him be like a puppet.”
Dalton told detectives that a symbol on the Uber app resembled a “devil” with a “horned cow head.”
He said he lost control of himself when the Uber app turned from red to black. He told detectives that he may have “tried to have a shootout with the police” when he was pulled over, but the black symbol turned from back to red and “stopped his thought.”
Dalton was arrested without incident at 12:40 a.m. Feb. 21 and was “even-tempered” after police took him into custody, Kalamazoo Prosector Jeff Getting said.
But Dalton’s bizarre story doesn’t match what he told his wife, Carole Dalton, on the phone. She told police that her husband said a tax driver was shooting at him and that it wasn’t safe to be at home unless she was armed.
He told her that they “couldn’t go back to work anymore and the kids could not go back to school.”
Confused, she asked Dalton to elaborate. He responded: “She would see what he was talking about on the news and that it probably wouldn’t say his name, but as soon as she saw it on the news she would know it was him,” the report states.
Uber Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said Dalton was approved to be a driver on Jan. 25 after clearing a background check. He gave more than 100 rides and had a high rating – 4.73 stars out of a possible five.
Before the shooting spree began, Dalton had given multiple Uber rides. At 4:30 p.m., he picked up a man and took him on a frightening journey, driving 80 mph and sideswiping another car after running a stop sign
The shooting spree began at 6 p.m. at a townhouse in Richland Township, where police say he shot a woman several times with a semi-automatic handgun, critically injuring her in front of her kids.
Shortly after 10 p.m., police said Dalton shot and killed an 18-year-old man and his father outside of a Kia dealership in Kalamazoo. About 15 minutes later, he opened fire on a van and car at a Cracker Barrel in Kalamazoo, killing four women and critically injuring a 14-year-old girl, according to police.
At 12:12 a.m., a calm Dalton drove a family to their hotel in Kalamazoo.
“I kind of jokingly said to the driver, ‘You’re not the shooter, are you?’ said Derek, who asked that his last name not be published.
About 20 minutes later, police spotted Dalton’s car and arrested him.
Dalton is facing up to life in prison on murder charges.
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.