Wednesday 22 November 2017

Six dead as gunman opens fire in 'random' shootings

Police involved in the search for the gunman. Photo: AP
Police involved in the search for the gunman. Photo: AP
Police tape surrounds the scene of the shooting. Photo: AP
Jason Dalton. Photo: Getty

Chris Michaud

A gunman, who seemed to choose his victims at random, opened fire outside an apartment complex, a car dealership and a restaurant in Michigan, killing at least six people during a rampage that lasted nearly seven hours, police said.

Authorities identified the shooter as 45-year-old Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who police said had no criminal record. They could not say what motivated him on Saturday night to target victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other.

"How do you go and tell the families of these victims that they weren't targeted for any reason other than they were there to be a target?" Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said yesterday at a news conference.

Dalton was arrested early yesterday in Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt. He is expected to be arraigned today on charges of murder and attempted murder.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6pm on Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, 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 fatally shot while looking at cars at the dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant along Interstate 94, Mr Matyas said. Four of them died.

A 14-year-old girl had earlier been reported among the fatalities, based on a pronouncement by medical officials. But police later said that she was taken to hospital in critical condition.

Authorities did not believe the shootings were targeted at specific people, describing them as "our worst case scenario," Mr Matyas said.

Dalton was arrested without incident at about 12:40am, after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Mr Matyas declined to disclose anything found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

By midday, authorities were investigating a Facebook post that indicated the suspect was driving for Uber during the manhunt and had taken at least one fare, Mr Getting said.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton had driven for the company in the past, but she declined to say whether he was driving on Saturday night.

"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."

Irish Independent

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