CRIME

Michigan Shooting Spree Suspect To Appear In Court After Allegedly Killing 6

Jason B. Dalton is expected to be arraigned on multiple counts of murder.

21/02/2016 4:28 PM AEDT | Updated 23/02/2016 12:44 AM AEDT
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A man suspected of killing six people and critically injuring two others in a shooting rampage this weekend is scheduled to appear in court on Monday.

Jason B. Dalton, 45, of Kalamazoo, is expected to be arraigned on multiple counts of murder.

Dalton was taken into custody Sunday after an hours-long manhunt that authorities say began around 6 p.m. local time. Authorities allege he attacked victims across three locations in southwest Michigan, including a town house complex, a car dealership and a restaurant. 

Dalton has no known previous criminal record, and there is no apparent link between him and his victims, police said.

Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office
Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo County was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo, following a massive manhunt.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Dalton allegedly fired 30 or more rounds across the three shooting scenes, according to the Kalamazoo Gazette. The prosecutor said Dalton was "even-tempered" and "cooperative" when he was arrested Sunday morning. A semi-automatic handgun was found in his SUV.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz called the shootings "incomprehensible." 

Dalton allegedly began shooting at the Meadows Townhomes around 6 p.m. and repeatedly fired on a woman outside her home. The woman, who has not been identified, was listed in critical condition.

More than four hours later, a father and his teenage son were killed in the parking lot of the Seelye Automotive Kia dealership. They were Rich Smith, 53, and Tyler Smith, 17, of Kalamazoo, the county coroner confirmed to The Huffington Post.

Less than 20 minutes later, four more people were killed and a 14-year-old girl was critically injured in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant near the I-94 highway exit. 

Dalton reportedly got out of his car in the parking lot and began talking to people before opening fire, Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told NBC News.

The four killed were Mary Jo Nye, 60, Dorothy Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68, all of Battle Creek; and Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, the coroner said. 

Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
A man places flowers at a Cracker Barrel where four people were killed.

The 14-year-old girl, who was reportedly with family friends at the restaurant, was initially pronounced dead until she squeezed her mother's hand at the hospital. Her name has not been released.

Getting told local news station WWMT it was a miracle the girl is still alive. 

"I'm going to cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope like hell that she survives," Getting said. 

Credit: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
People gather and pray at Center Point Church in Kalamazoo following the shooting.

Dalton drove for Uber, and several people have claimed he picked them up shortly before and after the shootings. One man, only identified as Derek, told a Kalamazoo NBC affiliate he took a ride with his wife and in-laws shortly after midnight. He said they jokingly mentioned the shooting but Dalton denied being involved and appeared to be calm. Dalton was arrested 20 minutes later.

Another man said he hailed a car via the app and was picked up by Dalton around 4 p.m., a few hours before the first shooting. The man, Matt Mellen, said Dalton was acting strange and driving erratically before Mellen jumped out of the car and called the police.

A spokeswoman for Uber did not say whether Dalton had accepted fares on Saturday, but confirmed that he was a driver for the company and had passed the company's background screening. 

“We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan," Uber's chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, said 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.”

Jeff Karoub/Associated Press
Police tape surrounds the site of a shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016.

Police have yet to pinpoint a motive for the shootings.

"What it looks like, is we have somebody just driving around finding people and shooting them dead in their tracks," Matyas told CNN Saturday. "These are random murders.”

“There is no connection between any of them," he added.

Surveillance video and employees at the car dealership and restaurant helped identify Dalton's vehicle, police said in a Sunday morning news conference. They described the shootings as intentional and noted Dalton had no known criminal record.

Dalton's neighbors told local news station WWMT he had been acting "paranoid" before the shootings.

Getting said in a statement Sunday that there was "no question that the police work and capture saved other lives."

A city of about 75,000 people about halfway between Chicago and Detroit, Kalamazoo is home to Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo College, the popular Bell's Brewery and Stryker, a medical supply company. The surrounding county, meanwhile, is a mix of suburban subdivisions and rural neighborhoods punctuated by large swaths of farmland.

Also on HuffPost: These Are The Victims Of The Kalamazoo Shooting

  • Tyler Smith, 17
    Tyler Smith via Facebook
    Tyler Smith was a senior at Mattawan High School in Van Buren County, just west of Kalamazoo County. He and his father, Richard Smith, were looking at cars at a dealership when they were both killed in the shooting rampage Saturday night.

    The teen was enrolled in a marketing entrepreneurship program, MLive reported, and was popular among his peers, school staff said.

    "He was really a great kid and really well liked," Robin Buchler, the school district superintendent, told MLive.

    “[My son has] known Tyler for years -- they’re both seniors this year -- and he just said he’s devastated,” she also told local news station WOOD. “I think [my son] dreads walking into class tomorrow and not seeing Tyler in that seat where he’s been all year, all semester.”

    Smith's sports league, Kingdom Soccer Club, remembered him as "a talented soccer player, a great teammate, and an exemplary young man."
  • Richard Smith, 53
    Richard Smith via Facebook
    Richard Smith (center) was killed alongside his son Tyler during the shooting rampage at the Kalamazoo car dealership.

    In a Facebook post, his wife Laurie Smith called him her best friend and her rock and thanked her friends for consoling her and her daughter over the loss of both Richard and Tyler.

    "Thank you all for your support as Em and I and our whole family try to figure out how to go on after losing our son, grandson, brother, cousin, nephew, friend, husband, soulmate, uncle, daddy, son-in-law, love of my life," she wrote.
  • Mary Lou Nye, 62
    GoFundMe
    Mary Lou Nye, a native of Eaton Rapids, Michigan, was the driver of a minivan parked in a Cracker Barrel restaurant parking lot when she was shot and killed.

    "Every time I spoke with her, she was just pleasant," her neighbor Carol Dinges told The Associated Press.

    She was the sister-in-law, friend and college roommate of victim Mary Jo Nye, MLive reported, and recently worked part time at a preschool and childcare program.

    The two women were in Kalamazoo to see a show at their alma mater, Western Michigan University -- something they did together about once a month, a family member said. MLive reports they were on their way back to their cars after the show. Mary Jo Nye was riding in a separate vehicle, with other victims of the shooting.

    A GoFundMe funeral fund for Mary Lou Nye and Mary Jo Nye has raised more than $5,000 as of Monday morning.
  • Mary Jo Nye, 60
    Facebook/Mary Jo Nye
    Mary Jo Nye lived in Battle Creek, Michigan, where she had worked at an alternative high school teaching English to at-risk teens, the AP reported.

    Nye helped launch Calhoun Community High School and retired four years ago. The assistant director of the school told the AP that Nye acted in "a position of mentorship, kind of a motherly figure" for a lot of kids.

    Nye was the sister-in-law of Mary Lou Nye, who was also killed. The two met as roommates at Western Michigan University before Mary Jo married Mary Lou's brother.

    Nye was parked outside of a Cracker Barrel restaurant with Barbara Hawthorne and Dorothy Brown, and all three were killed when the gunman shot into the car. Abigail Kopf, who had been sitting in the front seat, remains in critical condition.
  • Barbara Hawthorne, 68
    Facebook/Barbara Hawthorne
    Barbara Hawthorne was a resident of Battle Creek, Michigan, and was in the car with Mary Jo Nye and Dorothy Brown.

    She worked for the food manufacturing company Kellogg's for 22 years before retiring in 2008, according to a company statement.

    “We are deeply saddened by these tragic events and brokenhearted to learn that one of the victims, Barbara Hawthorne, belonged to our Kellogg family," company Chairman and CEO John Bryant said. "... Our thoughts and prayers are with Barbara’s family and friends, as well as all of the victims of this crime and their families."
  • Dorothy Brown, 74
    Neighbors said Dorothy Brown, whom her friends called Judy, was "a sweet, sweet old lady" and a wonderful neighbor always up for a chat, according to MLive.

    She often shared herbs from her garden with her neighbors and the AP reports she had two grown sons, one in California and another in Florida.

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