The Kalamazoo Uber Shooting: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Jason dalton court

Dalton in court on Monday. (Youtube screengrab)

Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will investigate Jason Dalton, a man who was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month after fatally shooting six strangers in 2016.

Tonight’s two-hour program will feature interviews with surviving victims, relatives, law enforcement, and reporters who covered the shootings, which took place on February 20, 2016.

What do we know about the case? What do we know about Dalton? Read on.


1. He Killed Six People on February 20, 2016

On February 20, 2016, Jason Dalton, an Uber driver, opened fire at three locations in Kalamazoo, Michigan, killing six people: 17-year-old Tyler D. Smith, his 53-year-old father Richard E. Smith, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye, Dorothy Brown, 74, and Barbara Hawthorne, 68. The Smiths were killed at a Kia car dealership. The four women were killed at Cracker Barrel.

Abigail Kopf was also a victim, but she survived. Kopf, just 14 at the time, suffered a gunshot wound to the head. At the time, she was accompanying a woman who was like her grandmother, Barbara Hawthorne, to a local Cracker Barrel.

Dalton was arrested six hours after the first shooting. When he first appeared in court, he was held without bail. He refused to address the court, saying he’d prefer to remain silent.


2. Dalton Reportedly Told Investigators a ‘Devil Figure’ on the Uber App Controlled Him on the Day of the Shootings

Dalton eventually admitted to shooting eight people and killing six. The Free Press reported that Dalton told investigators he was being haunted by a “devil figure on the Uber app” that was “controlling him the day of the shootings.”

Michigan Live writes, “Dalton drove erratically that afternoon, picking up Uber fares between the shootings. In an interview with detectives after his arrest, Dalton said the Uber app ‘literally took over his mind and body’ on Feb. 20 when the color of the app’s symbol changed from red to black. Dalton told the detectives the image for the app changed colors when he spoke the name of the Eastern Star symbol.”

Dalton’s wife, Carole Dalton, however, told investigators another story. Carole said her husband told her that he was having problems with a jealous taxi driver who had shot at him that day.

The tragedy, inevitably, left people around the country fearing for their lives. ABC News chief national correspondent Matt Gutman is quoted as saying, “It’s arguably the most terrifying phenomenon in our time: a man who seems to be the epitome of normal, an insurance adjuster, with two kids, a wife, no debt and no criminal history, terrorized Kalamazoo for eight horrific hours without a single observable trigger … It begs the question of how many folks out there are going through their daily routine as either possible ticking bombs, or hiding unfathomable pain.”

In a statement about the event, Uber’s Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan said, “We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this devastating crime and those recovering from injuries. We are reaching out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can…”


3. Dalton Has Two Children and Had No Criminal Record Before the Shooting


Shooting survivor addresses Kalamazoo Uber shooter at sentencingShooting survivor, Tiana Carruthers, addresses Jason Dalton before he was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole on six counts of murder and several other charges at the Kalamazoo County Courthouse in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Dalton, who was driving for Uber at the time shot eight people killing six…2019-02-05T19:26:42.000Z

All the more surprising is the fact that Dalton was a married father of two and worked as an insurance adjuster. He had no criminal record before the shootings. He also passed Uber’s background check.

In a statement to ABC News after Dalton was arrested, his family said, “There are no words which can express our shock and disbelief, and we are devastated and saddened for the victims and the families of the victims.”

The family continued by saying they would help determine a motive for the attack. “This type of violence has no place in our society, and we express our love and support for everyone involved… We intend to cooperate in every way that we can to help determine why and how this occurred.”

Interviewed by CNN after the incident, neighbor Gary Pardo shared, “This seems so out of sorts for him… I know he liked guns.”


4. He Was Sentenced to Life in Prison

jason dalton, jason dalton kalamazoo

Jason Dalton in an undated photo. (Facebook)

In court, Dalton pleaded guilty to six counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and several felony firearms charges.

He was sentenced to life in prison for the Kalamazoo killings.

As Michigan Live pointed out, a number of people asked why Dalton went on the shooting rampage, to begin with. Addressing Dalton, Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Alexander C. Lipsey said, “That, as best the court can see, is only known to you and to your creator… By your actions, Kalamazoo has been given an opportunity to show the world, in the words of Desmond Tutu, that goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate, love is stronger than darkness and life is stronger than death.

In court, the victims families addressed Dalton. Laurie Smith, who lost her husband and son, told Dalton, “You have children and you have a spouse, so why did you decide to take mine away from me? I hope you realize what you’ve done to all of the victims, to my family, to your kids, to your family, your parents, and to the community as a whole… I hope it haunts you and I hope you experience deep sorrow to your soul for the rest of your life.”


5. Survivor Abigail Kopf Suffered a Fractured Skull and Underwent Surgery to Have a Plate Inserted

jason dalton, jason dalton kalamazoo

Jason Dalton in an undated photo. (Facebook)

On February 20, 2016, Dalton killed six people and critically injured two. Tonight, ABC News’ 20/20 will speak with Abigail Kopf, one of the survivors of the shooting.

Kopf was just 14 at the time, and she was initially presumed dead. In fact, Kopf’s mother told doctors to turn off life support, but then they heard a heartbeat, according to the Daily Mail.

Kopf cannot remember all the details from the day of the shootings. Speaking to ABC News’, Kopf shares that she has an 80% likelihood of making a full recovery. She suffered a skull fracture and had a plate inserted in her head.

The other survivor of the shootings, Tiana Carruthers, will also speak to ABC News 20/20. Carruthers was 25 at the time and was the first victim to be shot in the shootings.

Be sure to tune in to The Deadly Ride tonight on ABC at 9pm ET/PT.

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