Man charged with 6 Michigan murders: ‘I’d prefer to remain silent’

Jason Dalton appeared by video in a Kalamazoo courtroom on Feb. 22, 2016 to face murder charges.
Jason Dalton appeared by video in a Kalamazoo courtroom on Feb. 22, 2016 to face murder charges.

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The man suspected of shooting eight people at random throughout the Kalamazoo, Michigan area, killing six, admitted to police he “took people’s lives,” according to court documents.

Jason Dalton, 45 was arraigned Monday afternoon in connection to the Kalamazoo area shooting rampage that killed six people and injured two others.

It took the judge less than nine minutes to read all 16 counts against Dalton, which included six counts of open murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight counts of felony firearm.

>>VIDEO: Kalamazoo shooting suspect arraigned

Seated at the Kalamazoo County jail, Dalton showed little reaction as he listened to the charges against him during Monday’s arraignment by video.

Clockwise from top left: Rich Smith. Tyler Smith. Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye and Dorothy Brown.
Clockwise from top left: Rich Smith. Tyler Smith. Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye and Dorothy Brown.

When the judge asked Dalton if he understood the charges he’s facing, the murder suspect simply said “yes” with a small nod.

When asked if he’d like to make any comments, Dalton said, “I would prefer just to remain silent.”

Dalton was taken into custody early Sunday morning after police say he opened fire at three different locations over the course of nearly five hours Saturday night. A total of six people were killed and two others were injured, including a 14-year-old girl who is in critical condition.

The Kalamazoo community is reeling from these senseless acts of violence that took so many innocent lives from us, 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. We are reaching out to these victims and offering all the resources of the Prosecutor’s Office to help them at this very difficult time,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting stated in a Monday release that came along with a copy of the three-page criminal complaint.

>>PDF: Charging documents for Jason Dalton

Dalton was an Uber driver who was apparently taking fares in between the shootings, police told 24 Hour News 8. Court documents also show that he switched out vehicles in between two of the shootings — moving from a Chevrolet Equinox to the Chevrolet HHR in which he was found and subsequently arrested.

Getting said Dalton was cooperative when he was arrested around 12:40 a.m. Sunday during a traffic stop in Kalamazoo. Officers found a semi-automatic handgun inside his vehicle.

A judge Monday denied bail for Dalton; his next court hearing is scheduled for March 3.

>>TIMELINE: Kalamazoo County shooting rampage

After combing state records, 24 Hour News 8 found Dalton does not have a criminal history in Michigan or Indiana.

Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley spoke with 24 Hour News 8 Monday morning. He said police are still investigating a possible motive.

“All indicators are that this was completely random,” he said. “The victims were essentially in the wrong place at the wrong time and happened to be in the same proximity as Mr. Dalton. It is frustrating and we’re continuing to figure out any motives that we could latch onto to give us some reason of understanding of why these things occurred but we just don’t have that yet.”

A large crowd gathered Sunday night honor the victims: 53-year-old Richard Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler, both of Kalamazoo; 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye of Battle Creek, her 62-year-old sister-in-law Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, both of Battle Creek.

“The national spotlight has shined bright on Kalamazoo in the last 24 hours and not in the manner that we would like it,” Hadley said Monday morning. “Our heart continues to go out to the families of the victims from the shooting. We’re here for them and we’re going to do our best as a community to support them.”

>>PHOTOS: Kalamazoo County shooting rampage

Additional events are being held on Monday for the community to remember the victims and mourn their loss. There was a mass at 12:10 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo. Another community vigil will be held on Monday at 6 p.m. at First Congregational Church in downtown Kalamazoo.

Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered flags lowered to half-staff for six days starting Monday to honor the six victims killed in Kalamazoo.

This story was originally published by WOOD TV.

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