Michigan carpark shooter named

  • 22/02/2016
(Reuters)
(Reuters)

A Michigan man who worked as an Uber driver is under arrest in the fatal shooting of six people in the US town of Kalamazoo.

Prosecutors allege that Jason Dalton, 45, opened fire in parking lots outside an apartment building, a car dealership and at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Kalamazoo, about 240km west of Detroit.

In addition to the fatalities, two other people were wounded, including a teenage girl who was initially thought to have died.

They could not say what motivated him to target victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other in the Saturday night shootings.

Dalton, who was arrested in Kalamazoo early on Sunday (local time) following a massive manhunt, was expected to be arraigned on Monday on murder charges.

Kalamazoo police chief Jeff Hadley said he understood that the wounded girl was initially believed to have died and was being prepped for organ harvesting when she grasped the hand of one of her parents.

The victims "appear to be chosen at random, because they were available", Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney Jeff Getting said at a news conference. "They were shot multiple times, multiple - nine, 10, 11 shell casings at each of these scenes."

Kalamazoo County under sheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6pm on Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 24km away, a man and his teenage son were fatally shot while looking at cars at the dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, Matyas said. Four of them died.

"These are random murders," Matyas said.

The two victims killed at the car dealership were identified as Tyler Smith, 17, and his father, Richard, who was 53.

The four people killed outside the restaurant were identified as 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda and 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek.

A 14-year-old girl wounded at the restaurant was hospitalised in critical condition.

Dalton was arrested without incident about 12:40am on Sunday after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Matyas declined to disclose anything found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

By midday, authorities were investigating a Facebook post that indicated the suspect was driving for Uber during the manhunt and had taken at least one fare, Getting said.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton had driven for the company in the past, but she declined to say whether he was driving om Saturday night.

A man who knows Dalton said he was a married father of two who never showed any signs of violence.

Gary Pardo Jr, whose parents live across the street from Dalton in Kalamazoo Township, described him as a family man who seemed fixated on cars and often worked on them.

Progressive Insurance confirmed that he once worked for the company before leaving in 2011.

Dalton was an insurance adjuster who did auto-body estimates and once taught an auto-body repair class at an area community college, said James Block, who has lived next door to him for 17 years.

"He loved to do things outside with his kids" like taking them for rides on his lawn tractor, Block said.

Dalton's wife and children were unhurt, authorities said.

Authorities were interviewing Dalton and reviewing his phone. They did not know if the handgun belonged to him, Getting said.

"This is every community's nightmare - when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason," Getting said.

AP