Police: Jason Dalton said Uber app controlled him ‘like A.I.’

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The man accused of shooting eight people in the Kalamazoo area, killing six, told police his phone was controlling him at the time of the shootings.

That’s according to a Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety report released Monday to 24 Hour News 8.

Jason Dalton, 45, told police after he was arrested following the Feb. 20 shooting spree that his Uber app took him over “like artificial intelligence that can tap into your body,” the documents show.

REPORT: DALTON KNOWS HE KILLED

Dalton was working as an Uber driver between the shootings of which he’s accused. He told police that it was when the app changed from red to black that he began having problems, according to the documents.

A still frame from dash cam footage of Jason Dalton's arrest on Feb. 21, 2016.
A still frame from dash cam footage of Jason Dalton’s arrest on Feb. 21, 2016.

Dalton, who was wearing a bullet-proof vest and had a loaded 9 mm gun at the time of his arrest, also told police he didn’t remember feeling the gun, yet remembers hearing the “pop, pop, pop” of bullets, the documents show. He told investigators that while he’s not a killer, he knows he killed.

Of the three shooting scenes that night in February, he told police he couldn’t recall the shooting at the Seelye Kia dealership. However, the documents show, he remembered the shooting at the Cracker Barrel and that he “never even aimed.”

According to the 87-page report released by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff Monday afternoon, Dalton had a Walther brand semi-automatic gun with an extended clip in his right pocket when he was arrested in the early morning hours of Feb. 21.

One of the arresting officers asked Dalton if his gun was registered to him. The officer said Dalton did not respond to the question and stared blankly ahead the whole time while walking he was escorted to the patrol vehicle.

Authorities also released video of Dalton’s arrest, which happened approximately seven hours after the first shooting.

Dalton told police he didn’t get into a shootout with them because the app color went from black to red, the police report stated.

DALTON  ‘A LITTLE MORE QUIET THAN NORMAL’

A close friend of Dalton’s told the sheriff’s department he was with Dalton the day of the shootings.  He said they visited three gun stores, including High Caliber Gun Store, Southwicks Gun Shop and On Target Gun Shop, where Dalton bought a waistband holster, which he fit to a gun that appeared to be a 9 mm Walther.

The friend told investigators Dalton was a “little more quiet than normal,” but Dalton said nothing was wrong when he asked.

Dalton parted ways with his friend that afternoon, saying he was going to take a nap then do some driving from Uber, the report stated.

The friend told authorities Dalton never talked about killing or shooting anyone and he was surprised to hear he was allegedly involved in the shooting spree.

CLOSE ENCOUNTER

Minutes before the first shooting, a couple encountered Dalton driving erratically at D and Douglas avenues in Cooper Township, the county report states.  The couple said Dalton was speeding and stopped so abruptly at the intersection, they weren’t sure he was going to stop.  The husband told deputies the vehicle pulled behind his vehicle and immediately passed him, hitting “an incredible rate of speed” before zipping out of sight.

A couple of moments later, the husband said the vehicle reappeared behind him and passed him on a curve, speeding off again.  The couple believed they saw the driver on his cellphone.

The couple recognized Dalton’s photo on the news as the same man who was driving aggressively.

FIRST SHOOTING: ‘SUSPECT JUST KEPT FIRING’

An Uber user told the sheriff’s department she requested Dalton to pick up her boyfriend around 5:15 p.m. from the Meadows apartment complex, where the first shooting happened around 5:45 p.m.

The first victim, Tiana Carruthers, told investigators the gunman pulled up to her as she was walking outside Meadows Townhomes in Richland Township, blocking her path, according to the sheriff’s department report.

She said the driver was about two feet away when he asked if she was someone else by a different name. Carruthers told the driver she was not and continued to walk.

She said that’s when she noticed a large black German Shepherd-type dog in the back seat of the vehicle that was barking and appeared agitated.  She said the driver turned around, drove back toward her and was about 8-10 feet away when he pulled out a gun and began shooting at her without warning, the report added.

Carruthers told investigators she tried to run but fell after being shot.

A witness told the sheriff’s department Carruthers was with several children when the gunfire rang out.  They were running towards the apartment when the witness lost sight of Carruthers.

>>PDF: Kent County Sheriff’s findings from Kalamazoo shooting rampage

“She states that the suspect just kept firing at them,” the report continued on.

Authorities recovered 10 shell casings at the scene where Carruthers was shot, the report stated.  They also spotted two tire marks left behind by the vehicle as it sped off.

Deputies who arrived at the scene found Carruthers lying face down near a pickup truck, conscious but “in great pain.”

Carruthers was hit by at least three bullets, including one shot to her shoulder and two to her torso.

An undated courtesy of Tiana Carruthers.
An undated courtesy of Tiana Carruthers.

In a 911 call, Carruthers can be heard asking about the children, which included two of her own. “We’ve got them,” the caller reassured her.

She told authorities she did not know who shot her.

>>PHOTOS: Kalamazoo County shooting rampage

A forensics team later found five shell casings inside the Equinox that were similar to those found at the townhomes, the sheriff’s report concluded.

As the suspect left the first shooting scene, the sheriff’s department said Dalton ran a red light at Gull Road and G Avenue and hit a Chevrolet Impala before speeding off.

The Uber user who originally called Dalton to the Meadows apartment complex said he didn’t return her call until 6 p.m., when he told her “something had come up and he could not do the pick-up.”  She said Dalton was rude during the call.

AN ODD REQUEST

After the first shooting, Dalton called his wife and asked her to meet him at his parent’s house to switch his silver Chevrolet Equinox for her black Chevrolet HHR because he had been side-swiped by a disgruntled taxi driver in a maroon Chevrolet Impala who also fired a gunshot at him.

Carol Dalton said her husband toler he the driver was angry he was now driving for Uber and taking away his business, the sheriff’s department reported.

However Carol Dalton said she didn’t believe him because he would not look her in the eye.

The newly released sheriff’s report said during that meeting, Dalton gave his wife a fully loaded 9 mm gun and said it was not safe for her to be at the house without a gun.  Dalton also told his wife she could not go back to work and their children couldn’t go back to school and she would see what he was talking about on the news.

According to the report, Dalton called his wife around 8:26 p.m. and told her not to call her parents, which she said was an odd request.  That was the last she heard from him that evening.

When investigators later met Dalton’s wife at her in-law’s home following the shootings, they were greeted by a black German Shepherd named Mia.

Dalton’s wife said he had taken the dog to a dog park earlier in the day.

SHOOTING SUSPECT ARRESTED

Sgt. James Harrison said he was returning from responding to a prank call when he came across Dalton’s vehicledriving slowly through the Up and Under Bar in Kalamazoo.  He said he followed the vehicle for several miles before stopping it.  He said he found a 9 mm weapon in his right front pocket, according to the arrest report.

In the city police report, Dalton said he saw the Eastern Star symbol and the devil pop up on his phone through the Uber app.  He also told police he was seeing himself outside his body.

Carruthers, who had not seen any news reports of the shootings, picked Dalton’s photo out of a collection of six photos presented to her while she was in the hospital, the sheriff’s department stated.

Dalton was later charged on 16 counts, including six counts of open murder, two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felony firearm.

Early on in police interviews, Dalton envoked his Fifth Amendment right, but did say he was sorry if he had shot a child.

Police said the shootings did not appear to be connected.

24 Hour News 8 has multiple crews working to get more information; check back with woodtv.com for updates.

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