KALAMAZOO, Mich - "I'm feeling a lot better today," said Matthew Mellen. "It's been a long couple days. I'm just ready to get back to normal, my normal life."
It was Saturday afternoon around 4:30 p.m. when Mellen says he took a Uber ride with Jason Dalton, the man now accused of killing six people and wounding two others throughout Kalamazoo County that same evening.
"We got about a mile from my house, and he received a telephone call," said Mellen. "It was over Bluetooth inside the car, so I could hear kind of the conversation. He stated that he had a rider in the car and that he would call them back immediately after he had dropped me off."
Mellen says it was right after that phone call that Dalton's actions had him panicked.
"Once he hung up that phone call is when he started driving really erratically," said Mellen. "He was running red lights at that point, squealing the tires. He ran a stop sign and side-swiped another vehicle."
Mellen said he begged Dalton to let him out.
"I was pleading for him to stop the vehicle so he could let me out. He was surprisingly calm the whole time. He was just stating, 'Don't you want to get a ride to your friends' house? Don't you need a ride?' And I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, just please pull over, and let me out.'"
Dalton was swerving into on-coming traffic along a busy Kalamazoo road, Mellen said, so Mellen began to point at random houses and saying that's where he needed to be dropped off.
"He pretty much stopped, slammed on the breaks, came to a stop," said Mellen. "That's when I jumped out, and he started kind of speeding away. I got the license plate number and called 911 immediately."
Mellen says he also took the necessary steps to notify Uber. Only later did Mellen learn that Dalton was the suspect in a series of deadly shootings.
"One thing that a lot of people haven't realized is that I was actually picked up in a different vehicle than the vehicle he was apprehended in," said Dalton. "I was picked up in a Chevy Equinox, silver Equinox, and he was apprehended in a darker colored HHR."
Mellen says the only threat he experienced during his ride with Dalton was the ride itself. "I never saw any weapons, he never physically threatened me in the car," he said. "I felt threatened because he was driving so erratically, but I was never threatened personally with a weapon."
"The community has come together and Kalamazoo is a great place to live, and our thoughts and condolences are with the families of the victims," said Mellen.