KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Jason Dalton told police he had killed but was not a killer; that it was his Uber app that had taken control of him and led him to open fire on random targets.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety on Monday released portions of its report on the Feb. 20 spree that killed six and injured two others, including summaries of police interviews with Dalton.
At first, Dalton pleaded the Fifth Amendment, refusing to answer any questions, even as police pleaded that the victims’ families and his family needed a reason why. Then he appeared to soften when told that a child had been shot, saying he was sorry that happened.
DALTON SAID HE SAW DEVIL THAT ‘TOOK OVER BODY’
But it quickly took a bizarre turn. He told police his Uber app had taken over his body.
He had only recently started driving for Uber and spent that night picking up and dropping off fares in between the shootings at three locations in the Kalamazoo area.
In an interview that seemed to grow stranger by the moment, Dalton told police that the Eastern Star symbol — an inverted, colored five-point star — then the devil popped up on his phone through the Uber app.
“Dalton acknowledged that he recognized the Uber symbol as being that of the Eastern Star and a devil head popped up on his screen and when he pressed the button on the app, that is when all the problems started,” police wrote.
He 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.”
DALTON REMEMBERED ‘POP, POP, POP OF GUN’
Dalton told police he didn’t really know how many shooting scenes there were. He told police he remembered the shooting at the Cracker Barrel in Texas Township — the final shooting — but not the shooting at Seelye Kia dealership in Kalamazoo less than half an hour earlier.
He said he picked his targets randomly.
“Dalton said he did not remember pulling the trigger and he just remembers feeling the percussion of the gunshots,” police wrote of the Cracker Barrel shootings. “Dalton said he remembered the pop, pop, pop of the gun.”
He said he didn’t remember the feeling of the gun in his hand.
“Dalton said that that is the really weird thing is that he never even aimed,” police wrote. “Dalton then extended his right arm straight out and moved it from side to side and said that he remembered that is just sort of had him and it was directing him as he was shooting.
“Dalton was asked if he was seeking out certain people or if he was shooting in a crowd and Dalton said that it was just a random thing.”
Dalton also told police he feared there could be more victims in the area of Riverview and D Avenue, where he recalled encountering two women wearing dark coats. Police found no other victims.
At some point during the night, Dalton went home, loaded a shotgun and fired shots into his garden shed outside — at the instruction of whatever was controlling him, he told police.
Dalton told police he owned a lot of guns.
“Dalton proceeded to tell us that he couldn’t imagine when he had bought them all that he would use them in this manner. Dalton then said that is why he is trying to tell us it is like an artificial presence,” police wrote in their report.
Dalton, who was wearing a bulletproof vest at the time of his arrest and was armed with a loaded 9 mm handgun, told police he didn’t get into a shootout with them because the color of the Uber app went from black to red.
Dalton had no known mental health problems before the shooting, but a judge has ordered a psychiatric examination to see if he’s competent to stand trial.
As for police, they say they don’t believe he was motivated by his Uber app.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting doesn’t buy it, either.
“This is something that happened because he wanted it to happen. Beyond that, I’m not sure we’ll ever get a good enough explanation,” he said.
Authorities on Monday released video of Dalton’s arrest, which happened approximately seven hours after the first shooting.