Michigan Uber driver admits to deadly shooting spree-media reports

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Michigan Uber Driver Charged With Six Counts of Murder


KALAMAZOO, Mich., Feb 22 (Reuters) - A man who worked as an Uber driver has admitted to the fatal weekend shootings of six people in Kalamazoo, Michigan, media reports said on Monday as police searched for a motive in a case raising questions about how the car service vets its drivers.

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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.

Local broadcaster Fox 17 and others cited county prosecutor Jeffrey Getting as saying Dalton waived his right to self-incrimination and admitted to his involvement in the crimes. Getting's office would not immediately confirm the reports.

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 as two guards flanked him.

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

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

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 150 miles (240 km) west of Detroit.

Police were investigating reports Dalton also may have driven customers of the Uber car-hailing service the night of the rampage. Two people were wounded in the shooting, including a teenage girl who was initially thought to have died.

"The Kalamazoo community is reeling from these senseless acts of violence that took so many innocent lives from us," said Getting, the county's prosecuting attorney.

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Initial checks with a key federal agency indicate Dalton was unknown to both law enforcement and counterterrorism agencies for having any known connection to extremist groups.

President Barack Obama said on Monday he had spoken to the mayor and top law enforcement in Kalamazoo about the shootings and pledged whatever federal support they need.

"Earlier this year, I took some steps that will make it harder for dangerous people like this individual to buy a gun. But clearly, we're going to need to do more if we're going to keep innocent Americans safe," Obama said in remarks before the National Governors Association at the White House.

Uber said on Monday it would not be changing the way it screened its drivers following the weekend shooting. 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.

The Dalton family said in a statement: "There are no words which can express our shock and disbelief, and we are devastated and saddened for the victims and the families of the victims,"

Michigan State Police said the shooting began at about 5:30 p.m. (2230 GMT) on Saturday with a woman wounded outside an apartment building. At about 10 p.m., Richard Smith and his son Tyler were killed at the car dealership.

About 15 minutes later four women identified as Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Michigan; and Dorothy Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; and Mary Jo Nye, 60, were fatally shot outside the restaurant.

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6 dead in Kalamazoo County Uber driver shooting spree, Michigan, aftermath, Jason Dalton
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Michigan Uber driver admits to deadly shooting spree-media reports
Jason Brian Dalton, 45, of Cooper Township, Mich., in a video arraignment on multiple murder charges on Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, at the Kalamazoo County Courthouse in Kalamazoo, Mich. (Jessica J. Trevino/Detroit Free Press/TNS via Getty Images)
FILE- In a Feb. 22, 2016 file photo, Jason Dalton, of of Kalamazoo Township, Mich., is arraigned via video in Kalamazoo, Mich. Dalton, charged with killing six people in a series of shootings in southwestern Michigan, had warned his wife the night of the shootings that she wouldn't be able to return to work and their children couldn't go back to school and she'd understand everything by watching TV news. Carole Dalton told investigators she was stumped by what Jason Dalton told her the night of the shootings. The details are in documents released Monday, March 14, by the Kalamazoo County sheriff's office, responding to a public records request by The Associated Press and others. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting is interviewed after filing charges on Jason Dalton, Monday, Feb. 22, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Mich. Dalton is charged with multiple counts of murder in a series of random shootings in western Michigan. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
People gather in Bronson Park in Kalamazoo, Mich., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016, for a candlelight vigil for the victims of a series of random shootings in the Kalamazoo area over the weekend. Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo Township was charged with six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder in the shootings and then arraigned on the charges. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
This image provided by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office shows Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo County. Dalton was arrested early Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after several victims were shot at random. (Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Map locates shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: Flowers and crime scene tape hang from a tree in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel where a gunman went on a shooting rampage, on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds the area of a random shooting on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Kalamazoo, Mich. Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo County was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after several victims were shot at random. (AP Photo/Jeff Karoub)
Bullet holes that pierced the siding of a townhome are marked on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016 in Ricland Township, Mich., the scene of a random. Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo County was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after several victims were shot at random.(AP Photo/Mike Householder)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: A general view of the Cracker Barrel where a gunman went on a shooting rampage, on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: A man places flowers at Kia Dealship where a gunman went on a shooting rampage on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: A woman places flowers at a Cracker Barrel where a gunman went on a shooting rampage, on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: A rose is placed in the door at the Kia Dealship where a gunman went on a shooting rampage on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
Police tape surrounds the area of a random shooting on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2016, in Kalamazoo, Mich. Jason Dalton of Kalamazoo County was arrested early Sunday in downtown Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt after several victims were shot at random.(AP Photo/Mike Householder)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: Media report in front of the Cracker Barrel where a gunman went on a shooting rampage, on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealeship and a Cracker Barrel store. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: Lt. Governor Brian Calley speaks at a prayer service at the Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
KALAMAZOO, MI - FEBRUARY 21: People gather and pray at Center Point Church following a mass shooting on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Authorities said that a shooter who killed six people and injured two others was an Uber driver who appears to have gunned down people at random during a four-hour rampage in the parking lots of a western Michigan apartment complex, a car dealership and a Cracker Barrel store on February 21, 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)
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(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and Ayesha Rascoe in Washington, D.C., Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee, Curtis Skinner in San Francisco, Barbara Goldberg in New York and Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Bill Trott)

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