A driver for Uber Technologies Inc. may have picked up passengers in between incidents as he drove around and shot at least six people dead over the span of several hours, according to police in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Jason Brian Dalton, 45, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of carrying out the attack, which happened late Saturday at an apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Police officers were briefed today that the suspect had potentially been on duty as an Uber driver while the shootings took place, said Jeff Hadley, chief of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety.
The shootings appeared to be random and may have been influenced by the destinations of Dalton’s passengers who arranged rides via the San Francisco-based car-booking service. Reports that he might have picked up fares during the windows between the killings have “materialized in just the last couple of hours” and aren’t yet confirmed, Hadley said. “Whether or not he picked up passengers will be part of the ongoing investigation.”
Uber said it’s referring inquiries regarding the routes to police given that there is an active investigation. “We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence,” Joe Sullivan, Uber’s chief security officer, said in a statement. “We have reached out to the police to help with their investigation in any way that we can.”
This isn’t the first time an Uber driver has been at the center of a criminal issue. In 2014, the rape of an office worker in New Delhi by an Uber driver led to a ban on the car-booking service. While there have been other incidents of misconduct by Uber drivers, the Michigan shooting would be the first to involve a mass shooting. In order to become an Uber driver, Dalton would have undergone, and passed, a background check.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reported that a resident identifying himself on Twitter as IamKeithBlack claimed in a tweet that he booked a 4.8-mile ride with Dalton at 8 p.m. on the night of the shootings. He uploaded a picture showing a receipt with Dalton’s picture, the route and a payment of $7.18. The shootings took place at three sites between 5:42 p.m. and 10:24 p.m., the Gazette reported.
Investigators plan to have the suspect arraigned by Monday afternoon. Today, efforts have centered on completing the initial phases of the investigation including executing a search warrant of the suspect’s home, Chief Hadley said.