Jason Dalton was reluctant to talk at first because, as he told police, he didn’t want to come across as a “crazy person.”
But, with some prodding, he did, giving investigators a glimpse into what was going through his mind the day of a deadly rampage in Kalamazoo.
Dalton is accused of killing six people and injuring two others in the western Michigan city over five hours on Feb. 20 in between picking up fares as an Uber driver.
Shortly after the shootings, he told investigators the Uber app made him “like a puppet” and that it would “take over your whole body,” according to documents released Monday and published by CNN affiliate WDIV-TV in Detroit.
“I asked Dalton why he was carrying his firearm tonight and he said that the Uber App literally took over his body and mind,” the documents read. “Dalton explained that when the (Uber) symbol turns to black, it literally has control over you.”
Earlier this month, a prosecutor said Dalton would undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his competence to stand trial.
Dalton, 45, is charged with six counts of murder. Police have said he does not have a history of mental health issues. He has yet to enter a plea.
Dalton’s comments to investigators were disjointed at times. He told them that “he is not a killer and he knows that he has killed,” according to the documents.
When asked whether he had any words for the parents of the child he killed, he said: “I’m sorry.”
‘You’re not that guy going around killing people are you?’
A sense of fear swept over Bell’s Brewery the night of Feb. 20.
The staff had imposed a quasi-lockdown (the owner locked the door, but let people leave if they wanted to) after hearing about a series of random shootings, patron Kelly Bainbridge told CNN that night.
Bainbridge and her fiance decided to remain at the brewery, but some decided to go.
One man and his family who chose to leave the brewery didn’t feel safe walking with an active shooter on the loose, according to police records.
So they got an Uber; Dalton picked them up.
When someone in the backseat mentioned the active shooter, the man jokingly asked Dalton if it was him.
“I’m just tired,” Dalton replied.
A bit later on early Sunday morning, he picked up another group of riders.
They noticed the car’s make and model matched the vehicle police were looking for in relation to the shootings, according to police records.
“You’re not the guy going around killing people are you?” one asked jokingly.
“That is crazy,” he replied.
“No way I’m that guy.”
Dalton shot his first victim hours earlier, at about 5:42 p.m.
But had started acting erratically earlier in the day, according to police records. One of his Uber passengers told authorities that he was in the car when Dalton got in a hit-and-run.
The ride began at 4:30 p.m. and things were normal at first. The passenger (whose name was redacted, but is identified as male) sat in front; when he got into the car there was a black German Shepherd sitting in the back.
As they continued on to the passenger’s friend’s house, Dalton got a phone call.
It was received through some sort of Bluetooth device, loud enough for the passenger to hear. He said the voice on the other end was high pitched and sounded “aggravated.” The conversation lasted about a minute (phone records show Dalton received a phone call at about 4:40 p.m. that day from his wife.).
Once Dalton hung up, that’s when things got dangerous.
He started driving fast and erratically — first into oncoming traffic, then blowing a stop sign and sideswiping a car. Dalton sped off, looked back at the car he hit but continued onward.
He blew two more lights, went over a median and drove on the wrong side of the road to pass traffic.
By this time, the passenger said he was yelling at Dalton to stop and let him out. Dalton yelled back, asking where his friend’s house (the passenger’s destination) was.
Dalton slammed on the brakes, at which point the passenger jumped out of the car and ran off.
The report lines up with what one man who works at Bell’s Brewery, Matt Mellen, told CNN affiliate WWMT.
The first victim
Dalton shot his first victim, Tiana Carruthers in an apartment complex in front of her children, police said.
Carruthers told police that someone driving a silver SUV cut her off while she was walking, according to police documents obtained by CNN.
The driver asked if she was someone (that name was redacted), to which she said no. In the backseat she noticed a large, black dog that looked like a German Shepherd, barking angrily.
The car then drove past her, but turned around and headed back toward her.
From about eight to 10 feet away, the driver pulled out a gun. He said nothing, but began firing at her.
‘She would know it was him’
Dalton told his wife that night he believed an angry taxi driver was targeting him because, as an Uber driver, he was taking away business from traditional cab companies, according to documents obtained by CNN.
In an interview with police the night of the shooting, Dalton’s wife said she arrived at her in-laws’ house that evening and found her husband on the phone trying to deal with an apparent car accident he sustained in a silver Chevy Equinox.
Dalton said that the taxi driver sideswiped him and fired a gunshot at him. He claimed the same driver nearly ran him off the road a week earlier.
Then, Dalton went upstairs, got a gun and handed it to his wife, saying it was not safe to be without it.
He went to silver car and tried to leave, but it wouldn’t start. So he decided to take the black Chevy HHR his wife was driving.
Before departing, he told his wife she couldn’t go back to work and the kids couldn’t go back to school.
She asked what he was talking about; he told her to check the news later.
“[He said] it probably wouldn’t say his name, but as soon as she saw it on the news she would know it was him,” the report said.
About four hours after the first shooting, Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, were at dealership looking at a car that night, police said.
They parked near a BMW for sale. The lights in the lot were off.
A woman and her husband (their names were also redacted) were driving past the dealership when they thought they heard firecrackers.
Then, the wife told police, she looked to the right and saw a man holding a black hand gun, pointing it at two people. She saw them fall to the ground and smoke coming from the gun.
Both Smith and his son were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said Dalton committed the last shooting in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant minutes later, killing Dorothy Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; Mary Lou Nye, 62; and Mary Jo Nye, 60.
Police said Abigail Kopf, 14, also was shot in the Cracker Barrel parking lot. Last week, she was set to leave the hospital for a rehabilitation facility, according to a Go Fund Me page set up by a family friend. She moved to the facility last Tuesday.
On Monday, a new photograph was posted to the Go Fund Me page, showing Abigail laughing in bed with her sister.