Michigan Uber Driver Jason Dalton Said 'He Took People's Lives,' Investigators Say

Uber defends its background check of suspect Jason Dalton.

ByABC News
February 22, 2016, 8:38 PM

— -- A Michigan Uber driver accused of killing six people and injuring two others in an alleged shooting spree this weekend told investigators that "he took people's lives,” officials said today at a court hearing that the suspect did not attend.

Authorities read the complaint against the suspected shooter, Jason Dalton, today, saying that Dalton made the statement after he was read his Miranda rights.

Dalton then made his first appearance at another hearing, which was his arraignment, held in a different courtroom. He appeared there via video and a judge read the charges against him.

Dalton, 45, was charged with six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight charges of using a firearm during the commission of a felony, according to Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney Jeff Getting.

Dalton told the judge he understood the charges, but when asked if he had anything for the judge to consider regarding bond, he said he wanted to remain silent. He did not enter a plea. His bail was denied and his next court appearance was scheduled for March 3.

After the hearing, Getting described the suspected shooter as cooperative and non-remorseful.

Investigators have not yet discovered a motive, but Getting said he believes Dalton picked up Uber fares between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m., which would have been after the first shooting of which he is accused, and before the others.

"The Kalamazoo community is reeling from these senseless acts of violence that took so many innocent lives from us," Getting said in a statement today. "Our hearts are saddened for all of the victims, their families and friends who are dealing with this on a much more personal level.

Dalton is first accused of shooting a woman in a Kalamazoo parking lot around 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Michigan State Police said.

The victim, Tiana Carruthers, gave police a description of the suspect after she was shot and injured, and authorities said she later identified Dalton in a police lineup.

Dalton is also the suspect in the deadly shooting of a father and son around 10 p.m. Saturday at the Seelye Ford KIA Dealership in Kalamazoo, state police said. The victims were identified as Richard Eugene Smith, 53, and Tyler Daniel Smith, 17, of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo Public Safety said.

Dalton then allegedly approached two cars in a Cracker Barrel Restaurant parking lot and shot five people, state police said. Four of the victims in the two cars died, police said. State police identified them as: Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Mich.; Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek, Mich.; Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek, Mich.; and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek, Mich.

The surviving victim from the Cracker Barrel shooting is a 14-year-old who is in critical condition, said state police.

After the Cracker Barrel shooting, Dalton was stopped at 12:40 a.m. and taken into custody, said state police. According to Getting, a semi-automatic handgun was found inside Dalton's vehicle, but investigators are still working to determine if that gun was the weapon used in the crimes.

Jonathan Southwick of Southwicks, a gun and ammo store, told ABC News today that Dalton visited his store at 3 p.m. on Saturday, just hours before the shooting that left six people dead. Dalton bought a 511 brand tactical jacket but he did not buy guns or ammo during that visit, Southwick said.

Southwick said Dalton stopped into his store about once a month on average.

Dalton's Saturday visit was captured on the store's surveillance cameras, Southwick said, and that tape will be handed over to federal authorities Tuesday.

Ed Davis of the Uber Safety Advisory Board told ABC News' "Good Morning America" today that there was "no background check that would have identified this man as a problem."

"There is a full background check done on all driver partners for Uber," Davis said. "And this individual had the background check completed and there was nothing in his background to indicate he was a problem. He had no record whatsoever.

"He was a father, a husband," Davis said. "He was described by the police chief in Kalamazoo as a regular guy, exactly the type of guy that any corporation would like to hire."

Davis, a former Boston Police Commissioner, called Uber "one of the safest platforms I’ve ever dealt with," adding that "Uber is constantly looking at their security procedures and updating them and that situation will continue."

The Dalton family said in a statement today: "This type of violence has no place in our society, and we express our love and support for everyone involved. We intend to cooperate in every way that we can to help determine why and how this occurred."

ABC News' Alex Perez contributed to this report.