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Thursday 26 May 2016

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Uber driver Jason Dalton charged with six murder counts after Michigan rampage

Published 22/02/2016

Shooting suspect Jason Brian Dalton, 45, after being arrested February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dalton is accused of killing 6 people and wounding 2 others at three locations in Kalamazoo in a seemingly random shooting spree.
Shooting suspect Jason Brian Dalton, 45, after being arrested February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dalton is accused of killing 6 people and wounding 2 others at three locations in Kalamazoo in a seemingly random shooting spree.
Police tape surrounds the area of a shooting in Kalamazoo (AP)

A prosecutor has charged a man with six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder after a series of random shootings in western Michigan, in America.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting filed the charges against 45-year-old Jason Dalton, of Kalamazoo Township.

Dalton is expected to make an initial court appearance later.

Dalton was arrested on Sunday in Kalamazoo.

Police said the rampage began about 6pm on Saturday outside an apartment complex, where a woman was seriously wounded.

A little more than four hours later, a father and son were fatally shot while looking at vehicles at a car dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were shot in the car park of a Cracker Barrel restaurant.

Dalton was reported by a local TV station to be an Uber driver who carried passengers between the shootings over a seven-hour period on Saturday night.

Wood TV said police were investigating reports that Dalton dropped off Uber passengers at a hotel, then went to the nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant and killed four women and seriously wounded a 14-year-old girl.

It said a Facebook post by the fiancee of an Uber passenger claimed Dalton had sideswiped a car, run a red light and was driving erratically just before the shootings.

It was initially reported that the 14-year-old had died, but police later revised the deathcount from seven to six, as the teenager is still alive, though gravely injured.

Police were first called to an apartment complex where a woman was shot multiple times. She was taken to hospital in a serious condition.

Dalton was arrested without a struggle.

Michigan state prosecutor Jeff Getting said Dalton had been arrested and would face multiple murder and attempted murder counts. “This is every community’s nightmare – when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason,” he said.

Police described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6pm outside an apartment complex, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 18-year-old son were killed while looking at cars at a car dealership. Fifteen minutes after that came the restaurant shootings.

Dalton was arrested without incident after an officer spotted his vehicle driving through Kalamazoo after he left a bar. Police declined to say what was found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

An Uber representative confirmed that Dalton was a driver for the car-hailing service and said he had passed background checks. The company’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, said Uber was contacting police to help with the investigation.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said: “In this particular case, we’re just thankful it ended the way it did – before he could really kill anybody else.”

Authorities said Dalton had been in contact with more than one person during the rampage but would not elaborate. Prosecutors said they did not expect to charge anyone else.

“There’s no common denominator with any of these,” Mr Matyas said. “This person was just waiting in the parking lot of the apartment complex. The one at … the dealership, they were looking at cars. The ones at Cracker Barrel, they were just sitting in their cars. There is absolutely no common denominator … through race, age, anything.”

With a population of about 75,000, Kalamazoo is about 160 miles west of Detroit. It is home to Western Michigan University and the headquarters of the popular craft beer maker Bell’s Brewery.

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