KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A southwestern Michigan man who fatally shot six strangers in between picking up passengers for Uber was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with no chance of parole.
Jason Dalton, 48, received the mandatory sentence in Kalamazoo County court. He pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder last month, just as jury selection was about to begin.
Dalton admitted shooting eight people in three locations in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016. After his arrest, police quoted Dalton as saying a “devil figure” on Uber’s app was controlling him on the day of the shootings.
Four women were killed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant: Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy “Judy” Brown, Mary Lou Nye and her sister-in-law, Mary Jo Nye. Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith, were fatally shot while looking at a pickup truck in a dealer’s lot.
Abigail Kopf, who was 14 at the time, was shot in the head during the restaurant shooting and survived. Tiana Carruthers was shot and wounded in a residential area.
Dalton was deemed competent to stand trial and had dropped an insanity defense just before his trial was scheduled to start. He hasn’t explained in court why he randomly shot eight people.
The father of two had worked as an insurance adjuster and had no criminal record before the shootings.
Prosecutor Jeff Getting has said the motive behind the shootings is a question that “haunts us.”
A gun shop owner said Dalton bought a jacket with an inside pocket designed to hold a gun just hours before the rampage. Shop owner Jon Southwick recalled Dalton “laughing and joking,” and giving a “one-armed hug” to the manager before making the purchase.