Kalamazoo shooting spree suspect charged with 6 murders

Posted at 1:20 PM, Feb 22, 2016

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Jason Dalton, accused of going on a county-wide shooting rampage that killed six people and critically injuring two others, is now charged with six counts of open murder in connection with the weekend shooting spree in Kalamazoo County.

Dalton, 45, was formally arraigned Monday afternoon in 8th District Court in Kalamazoo.

Dalton appeared emotionless during his video arraignment, and when asked by the judge if he had anything to say to the community, only said, “I would prefer just to remain silent."

He is set to appear in court again on March 3. A judge denied bond.

In addition to the murder charges, Dalton also faces two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight counts of felony firearms in connection with the Saturday evening shootings.

Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Dalton waived his right against self-incrimination and admitted to "taking people's lives." Gettings confirmed that Dalton took fares as a Uber driver after the first shootings and probably more after later shootings.

"The Kalamazoo community is reeling from these senseless acts of violence that took so many innocent lives from us," Getting said, "and our hearts are saddened for all of the victims, their families and friends who are dealing with this on a much more personal level."

Sworn testimony from officers who arrested Dalton early Sunday morning revealed they found a semiautomatic handgun in his vehicle.

During the shooting spree, Dalton is alleged to have changed vehicles from a Chevrolet Equinox to a Chevrolet HHR, the vehicle which he was found in when he was arrested.

Dalton's family released a statement Monday, expressing sympathies and condolences for the victims and their families. The family also expressed gratitude toward law enforcement, saying, "Quick and decisive action prevented any further acts of violence."

"There are no words which can express our shock and disbelief and we are devastated and saddened for the victims and the families. We cannot comprehend the grief which you are feeling and while it seems woefully inadequate, we are deeply sorry and praying for everyone affected."

The family said they intend to cooperate however it can to help determine why and how this occurred. The family's attorney, Paul Vlachos, said he represents Dalton's parents, his wife and two children but does not represent Jason Dalton in the criminal proceedings.

Six people were killed and two other were wounded in the shootings, which began at about 6 p.m. Saturday at Meadows Townhomes.  Tiana Carruthers was shot and seriously injured there while trying to protect children from the gunfire.

Dalton then allegedly opened fire at the Seelye Kia Dealership on Stadium Drive at about 10:15 p.m., killing Rich Smith and his son Tyler Smith while they looked at cars.

About 15 minutes later, Dalton shot five other people in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township, police say. Four of those victims, Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye, Dorothy Brown and Barbara Hawthorne, were killed. A 14-year-old girl, Abigail Kopf, remains hospitalized in critical condition.

Dalton was arrested at about 12:40 a.m. Sunday near Ransom and Porter streets in Kalamazoo.

The Associated Press, FOX 17s Josh Sidorowicz and Lauren Edwards contributed to this report.

Watch the entire court appearance: