21 November 2018
Jason Dalton makes his first court appearance on 16 charges including six of murder. Photo: Reuters
Jason Dalton makes his first court appearance on 16 charges including six of murder. Photo: Reuters

Uber driver admits shooting 6 people dead in Michigan

A man working as an Uber driver admitted to the shooting rampage that killed six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan over the weekend, a police detective testified on Monday.

Jason Dalton, 45, was denied bail as he made his first court appearance on 16 charges including six of murder that can bring life in prison, Reuters reported.

The case raises questions on how the car service vets its drivers, the news agency said.

Dalton told detectives “he took people’s lives”, Kalamazoo Public Safety Detective Cory Ghiringhelli testified in a county district court ahead of the suspect’s arraignment.

Dalton appeared via a video link and was seen on a monitor at the Kalamazoo County court wearing glasses and dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit.

When asked if he had anything to say, Dalton, who appeared emotionless through the proceedings, said he preferred to “remain silent”.

The judge denied bail and set March 3 for the next hearing.

After the hearing Kalamazoo County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Getting told reporters Dalton had been cooperative with authorities but possible motives for the shootings were still unclear.

“No one understands why it happened, and that adds to the fear and the sorrow,” Getting said.

Prosecutors alleged Dalton randomly shot multiple times at people during a five-hour period on Saturday at an apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Kalamazoo, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) west of Detroit.

Police were investigating reports Dalton drove customers of the Uber car-hailing service the night of the rampage.

Uber said on Monday it would not be changing the way it screened its drivers following the weekend shooting spree. It also said Dalton had received “very favorable” feedback from riders.

“There were no red flags, if you will, that we could anticipate something like this,” said Uber’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan.

Uber drivers use their personal vehicles to ferry customers at prices generally below those of established taxi companies. Critics contend vetting is inadequate and the company never meets potential drivers in person.

“A background check is just that – a background check. It does not foresee the future,” Ed Davis, of the Uber Safety Advisory Board, told reporters in a teleconference.

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