Killer driver's excuse: 'Uber made me do it'

Jason Dalton appears in court via video. Photo / AP
Jason Dalton appears in court via video. Photo / AP

The man police say shot and killed six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, last month told officers that he was being controlled by the Uber app on his phone when the shooting spree occurred, according to authorities.

When a police officer asked Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton about the shooting, he told them that when he opened the company's app, a symbol appeared that "would literally take over your whole body," an officer wrote in a police report released Monday.

During an interview with detectives, Dalton said he did not remember shooting people, though he acknowledged that the families of people killed deserved an explanation for what happened. After talking with the detectives for some time, Dalton was asked for an explanation and said that the reason "would blow [their] minds," Det. William Moorian of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety wrote in his report on the interview.

"Dalton said that he understands now how the other mass shootings take place," Moorian wrote. "Dalton explained how he has experienced a full body takeover, that is how he can understand the other mass shootings."

Dalton told detectives that he believed the Uber app controlled him, and said he pleaded the Fifth earlier in the interview to avoid coming across as a crazy person, Moorian wrote. He went on to tell police that a symbol appeared -- a devil-like image with horns -- and would give him an assignment that he would follow and, at times, see himself from outside of his body, Moorian wrote.

He went on to tell detectives "about the Masons and the Eastern Star symbol" that he said popped up on the phone, but what he said "didn't make any sense," Moorian added. In an interview with another detective, Dalton said when he saw the Uber app shift from a red color to black, that is when he would get taken over "like a puppet."

Uber declined to comment on the report's release and Dalton's statements.

In the days and weeks since Dalton allegedly gunned down random strangers while he was picking up fares for the service, investigators and neighbors alike have said they are baffled by the Feb. 20 rampage.

During the spree, police said that Dalton shot eight people -- six of them fatally -- in three different locations spread over about four hours. The victims included a high school senior and a 74-year-old woman. One of the victims who survived is a 14-year-old who was shot in the head; she was released from the hospital last week and moved to an inpatient rehabilitation center.

Earlier this month, a judge ordered that Dalton undergo a mental competency examination to see if he can stand trial. Jeffrey S. Getting, the Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney, said Monday he expected the evaluation to be completed soon. Dalton's court-appointed attorney, Eusebio Solis, could not immediately be reached for a comment Monday.

The shooting spree rocked the city of 75,000, and while authorities said Dalton made "incriminating statements" after he was arrested, they said they struggled to find a motivation for what caused the violent eruption. Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley called the rampage "baffling."

In the police report released Monday, authorities offer a timeline of their response to the shooting, describing traveling from the scene of Dalton's arrest to informing relatives of one of the victims about their death. They then describe going to Dalton's home, where police say weapons and boxes of ammunition were recovered.

The shooting spree ended when Dalton was taken into custody by police hours after the gunfire began. Moorian wrote that Dalton said he gave up and didn't try to shoot a police officer because the Uber app no longer had control over him. During his interview with authorities, Dalton said he was unable to uninstall the app because "it sort of had you at a certain point," Moorian wrote.

- Washington Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 08 Dec 2016 23:14:38 Processing Time: 695ms