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Crime News Criminal Confessions

‘It Would Blow Your Mind’ — Uber Driver Discusses Motive For Shooting Rampage

Jason Dalton killed six people over the course of a single evening and claimed the ride share app made him commit the shootings.

By Aly Vander Hayden

When law enforcement in Kalamazoo, Michigan, caught up to Uber driver Jason Dalton after his violent 2016 shooting rampage, he claimed it was the ride share app that made him gun down six strangers and wound two others. 

“I know you want an explanation … If you guys only knew, it would blow your mind,” Dalton said in an interview with Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Department Detective Don McGhee and Kalamazoo Department Public Safety Detective Bill Moorian.  

Dalton went on to say that when he opened the Uber app, “there was like a devil head that popped up.” He said he pressed the symbol, and “that is where all the problems went after that.” 

When asked what made Dalton grab his firearm and don a bullet-proof vest that night, Dalton said it was “the app, the Uber.” 

“I’ve experienced the full body takeover,” Dalton said. “It literally has control of you. I would have never done any of these atrocities that have happened.” 

Based on Dalton’s claims, Det. Moorian believed he was attempting to set up an insanity defense, even though Dalton had “no history of mental illness” and “no history of medications,” he told “Criminal Confessions,” airing Saturdays at 6/5c on Oxygen

“We knew there was a chance he might claim that he didn’t know what he was doing, that he wasn’t acting in his right mind as it’s defined by the law,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Williams. 

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Dalton gave investigators no solid motive and minimal details about the attack, which was carried out on the evening of Feb. 20, 2016. He shot his first victim, 25-year-old Tiana Carruthers, at the Meadow Townhomes apartment complex, later heading to a car dealership where he killed father and son Richard Smith, 53, and Tyler Smith, 17. 

The violence ended at a Cracker Barrel parking lot with Dalton gunning down four women and a young girl — Barbara Hawthorne, 68, Mary Jo Nye, 60, Mary Lou Nye, 62, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, 74, and Abigail Kopf, 14. 

Only Carruthers and Kopf survived the shootings. 

Dalton was ultimately found competent to stand trial, and during jury selection, he pleaded guilty to each count against him, including six counts of first-degree murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight felony firearm charges, according to Michigan news site MLive.com

He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

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While Dalton is now behind bars, law enforcement officials and the victims’ families are still left questioning why he carried out the brutal slayings. 

“I still didn’t have any more idea of why he did it than the day I woke up and was looking at the news and found out what had happened here,” Williams said. 

To hear more from the families and learn how authorities tracked down Dalton, watch “Criminal Confessions” on Oxygen. 

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