Kalamazoo Uber Driver Blames Ride-Sharing App For Killing Spree
Jason Dalton, the Kalamazoo Uber driver accused of killing six people and wounding two others last month, told police that the ride-sharing app took over his “mind and body” and made him carry out the rampage, reports the Detroit Free Press. In interviews with police after the Feb. 20 shootings, Dalton, 45, blamed the killings on the Uber app, saying his iPhone directed him where to go and when to shoot people. Dalton said he would have gotten in a shootout with police when he was arrested, but the app directed him not to. Dalton is accused of shooting people at three locations in between picking up passengers as an Uber driver.
Dalton said that when he opened up the Uber ride service app, a symbol, which he believed was the Eastern Star, popped up. Dalton said the symbol resembled a devil’s head and “that’s when all the problems started.” “Dalton described the devil figure as a horned cow head or something like that and then it would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body,” said police reports. His wife, Carole, told investigators with the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office that he had told her a different story: that he was having problems with a jealous taxi driver who’d shot at him, and that she should stay away from their home unless she was armed, according to sheriff’s reports also released Monday.
Dalton told police he experienced “a full body takeover” during the shooting spree and expressed concern about being placed in the general population at the jail because of what he did.
“I asked Dalton what made him get his gun tonight and he said the Uber app made him,” an investigator said in the reports.
Dalton also told police the Uber app made him put on a bulletproof vest. He said he purchased the vest for his son, who is an “Explorer (scout) with the county.”
“… And Dalton told us that literally when he logged onto the site (referring to the Uber app) it started making him be like a puppet,” the report states.
He told police that when the Uber app turns from “red to black that is when he started having problems.” He said when the system switched from black to red, he “got his presence back.”
Dalton told the detectives that when he was about to be arrested that night by police, he would have potentially “tried to have a shootout with the police” but the log went from the black symbol back to red and that’s when he “stopped his thought.”
He claimed he couldn’t remember much of the shootings because he wasn’t in control of his body.
“Dalton then told us that it feels like it is coming from the phone itself and he didn’t know how to describe that,” the report states. “…Dalton said that as he was sitting there with us, it was almost like artificial intelligence that can tap into your body.”
He said it was scary to him that he wasn’t sure how much he had done.
“Dalton said it would take you over to the point that you are like a puppet,” the report said. “Dalton said that he was afraid that maybe he could’ve killed his family.”
Before the detectives began to interview him, he was overheard whispering in the room, by himself, saying sorry, “my love.”
In the other documents released by Kalamazoo authorities Monday, Carole Dalton told sheriff’s investigators her husband had arranged to meet her at his parents’ house, where he parked a damaged Chevrolet Equinox in the garage. He told his wife he was in a spat with a taxi driver and that he’d been shot at earlier in the day by someone in a maroon Impala that sideswiped him, according to the reports from the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office.
But police say the SUV was damaged as Dalton fled the scene of the first shooting at an apartment complex where a 25-year-old woman was shot several times.
When Dalton arrived at the home to switch cars before allegedly continuing the shooting spree, he told his wife that “he was nearly run off the road last week by this same vehicle, which he believed was owned by an angry taxi driver, upset that Jason was now driving for Uber and taking away his business,” according to her statements in the reports.
The wife told investigators she “did not really believe” her husband because he wouldn’t look her in the eye, “even when she purposely stepped directly in front of him,” according to the report.
After the exchange in the garage, he went upstairs in the parents’ home and retrieved a Taurus 9mm pistol, handing it to her. Dalton told his wife it wouldn’t be safe to be at their home without a gun.
“(Dalton) told her he would try to stop at their house … and grab some things for them, but that she couldn’t go back to work anymore, and the kids could not go back to school,” according to the report.
The wife asked what he was talking about, and Dalton responded that she would find out “on the news,” but that it probably wouldn’t include his name. He then left the house in the Chevrolet HHR she’d been driving, telling her he was going to stop at the ATM and get a couple of hundred dollars out.
An Uber spokesperson on Monday declined to comment on Dalton’s statements to police. On the day after the shootings, the company had issued a statement confirming that Dalton was an Uber driver and said he had passed a background check. The company said it was “horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence.”
Dalton is charged with six counts of open murder and two counts of assault with intent to murder. He also is charged with eight counts of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. If convicted on all charges, he faces a mandatory life sentence in prison without parole. Michigan does not have a death penalty.
A judge has ordered a mental examination for Dalton to determine his mental state now, not when the shootings took place, according to Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting.
Getting said the request came from defense attorney Eusebio Solis of Albion, who was appointed to represent Dalton. Getting said the evaluation is likely to take up to 60 days, delaying a preliminary examination in district court.