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What Happened to the Killer From Michigan That Killed an Uber Partner?

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Key Takeaways

  • Jason Dalton, involved in a shooting rampage in 2016, was a 45-year-old insurance adjuster and part-time contractor with Uber.
  • Dalton’s incident in Kalamazoo, Michigan, resulted in six fatalities, following a series of seemingly random attacks.
  • After the shootings, Dalton was apprehended by police without incident and subsequently sentenced to life in prison without parole.
  • The incident underscores the importance of safety measures for both riders and drivers in ridesharing services.

With over 110 million monthly users as of 2023, Uber is the most popular ridesharing app in the U.S.

Despite its popularity and commitment to safety, tragic incidents like the story of the driver killed while driving as an Uber partner, Jason Dalton, can send shockwaves to the whole ridesharing community.

Today, we take a look back at the tragic moment in February 2016, which claimed the lives of six people and wounded a few others.

Who is Jason Dalton, and what led to the shooting rampage?

What We Know of Jason Dalton

Dalton was 45 years old at the time of the incident. He’s married, with a 15-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter. He worked as an insurance loss adjuster in Kalamazoo and as a driver with Uber during his spare time.

Post-incident reports revealed he had hobbies of acquiring guns. He owned 16 of them and was a frequent customer of local gun stores.

Timeline of Incident

The following events recount the hours before the tragic Saturday evening of February 2016 that killed six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

4 p.m. Matt Mellen

Jason Dalton picked up Matt from downtown Kalamazoo, who was heading to his friend’s house to get the car he left from last night’s birthday party. The ride was fine until Dalton received a phone call from his son that changed his demeanor.

He sped into a traffic lane and hit a car. Matt called him out for it and asked to stop the vehicle, which Dalton refused. Matt eventually managed to get out of the car when they reached Iroquois Trail, just moments after pretending and convincing Dalton they’d arrived at their destination.

Sometime before 5 p.m.

Dalton went home, loaded his Glock 9-mm semi-automatic pistol, wore his bulletproof vest, and went back to driving on the streets.

Around 5:33 p.m. Maci

Maci DeAllen booked a ride using Uber to pick up her boyfriend but gave the wrong pickup point. She gave Dalton the correct directions but got no response.

Around this time, surveillance footage saw Dalton’s car driving around the area, stopping near DeAllen’s house but never seeing the guy.

5:40 p.m. Tiana Carruthers

Tiana was around DeAllen’s area and was leading five children to the playground when Dalton’s car stopped and asked if she was Maci. She said no.

Dalton drove off before turning the car around, stopped near her location, and pulled out his gun.

He shot Tiana Carruthers four times before driving straight to his parents’ house. It was reported later that Tiana survived the assault.

6:09 p.m. Maci

Maci confirmed receiving a “rude” call from Dalton telling her he didn’t have time for the pickup and that she should book another ride.

Dalton was in his parents’ garage during the call. Carole (his wife) asked what the call was, to which he responded that it was to report car damage.

Around 7 p.m.

A neighbor’s daughter reported seeing Dalton’s car parked at their family home. Later, reports revealed he went home to replace his Glock with a Walther P99 9-mm semi-automatic.

Between 7 and 10 p.m.

Dalton continued to pick up fares with no reported incident.

10:08 p.m. Rich and Tyler Smith

Tyler Smith and his father, Rich, pulled into Seelye Kia. They were looking for a car that they could use for a joint business.

Security footage around the area showed Dalton walking up to the duo, doing small talk, before raising his gun and shooting them both.  

Sometime after 10 p.m., Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye, Dorothy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, and Abigail Kopf

This group of 60-year-old women and a 14-year-old teen (Abigail) returned to Cracker Barrel after watching a Chinese acrobatic show.

They were about to go home when Dalton came up to Mary Lou Nye and shot her. When the other women screamed, he started shooting them too.

Later, reports confirmed everyone except the 14-year-old Abigail died in the rampage.

11:20 p.m.

Dalton returned to his family home, where his neighbor, Jim Block, heard four gunshots being fired at the property.

Later, Dalton drove back on the streets with his freshly loaded Walther 9-mm.

Between 11:30 p.m. to 12:36 a.m.

Dalton continued picking up passengers with no issues. At this point, news about the killings had gone out in public, warning people to be on the lookout for a Chevy HHR driven by an older male.

12:37 a.m.

Sergeant James Harrison, who noticed Dalton’s car driving near his location, decided to follow him.

Matching the descriptions flagged by the authorities about their killer, Harrison flipped on his police car lights, signaling a felony stop. Dalton obliged, which then led to his arrest.

Aftermath and Sentencing

On February 5, 2019, almost three years after the killings, the Kalamazoo County Courthouse sentenced Jason Dalton to life in prison without parole for the six counts of first-degree murder.

During the sentencing, family members of the victims got the chance to say their statements in front of Dalton.

How to Be Safe While Using the Uber App

From booking your ride to waiting for your driver, there are simple things you can do to keep yourself safe.

Here are some of Uber’s best practices:

  • Stay Indoors: Book and wait for your ride inside. It’s generally safer to check your phone in a well-lit area with other people.
  • Check Your Uber Details: You can only book rides via the app, so all the info should match your ride. Double-check plates, car models, and driver IDs.
  • Confirm Each Other’s Names: Uber doesn’t allow you to request a specific driver, so make it a habit to ask your driver who he’s picking up and his name. This added safety measure ensures you’re getting in the right car.
  • Share Ride Details With Trusted People: This can be your family or close friends. You can share the trip status from the app, which will notify the recipient of your ride details and ETA.
  • Utilize the Backseat: It depends on your preference, but we recommend sitting on the back passenger seat for privacy. The doors on each side also ensure you have more exit points in an emergency.
  • Monitor Your Ride: Not to be paranoid, but keeping track of your route doesn’t hurt. You can do this via Google Maps or by looking at your driver’s mobile, often mounted on their dashboard.
  • Listen to Your Intuition: Respect your gut feeling. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver to drop you off if you feel anything wrong about the ride.  

Dealing With Emergencies During a Ride With Uber

There’s no foolproof way to avoid emergencies; even the safest ride carries risks.

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation while on Uber, make sure to do any of the following:

  1. Use the Emergency Button: This is the blue shield icon in your Uber app. Use this to ask for immediate assistance during road accidents.
  2. Use the In-App Emergency Assistance: This one’s the red ambulance light you see in the app. Clicking the “Call” button connects you to someone who can offer real-time medical assistance.
  3. Call 911: Good old 911 is your best friend if you want something familiar and reliable.
  4. Ask the Driver to Stop: If you’re suspicious of your driver’s behavior or feel something off about your ride, politely ask the driver to drop you off.

Wrapping Up

John Dalton’s story might be an isolated case, but it did raise issues about Uber’s efficiency in approving drivers.  

Today, Uber remains one of the most trusted and efficient ridesharing apps globally, and there are many reasons why you should continue using it.

Still, it doesn’t guarantee 100% safety despite its rigid screening process and excellent track record. Staying alert, informed, and cautious when booking your rides remains ideal.

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