Michigan Uber driver charged with 16 counts, including murder

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KALAMAZOO, Mich., Feb 22 (Reuters) -- A Michigan man who worked as an Uber driver is due to be arraigned on Monday in the fatal weekend shootings of six people in Kalamazoo as police search for a motive in a case that raised questions about how the car service vets its drivers.

Jason Dalton, 45, faces 16 charges, including six of murder, which can bring up to life in prison, the county's prosecutor said. An initial records search indicated Dalton had no criminal record and no known links to extremist groups.

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6 dead in Kalamazoo County Uber driver shooting spree, Michigan, aftermath, Jason Dalton
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Michigan Uber driver charged with 16 counts, including murder
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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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. No motive has been given.

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

Initial checks with a key federal agency and the Southern Poverty Law Center indicate Dalton was unknown to both law enforcement and counter-terrorism agencies for having any kind of known connection to extremist groups.

"This guy had no criminal history," Kalamazoo Police Chief Jeff Hadley told CNN on Monday. "There is a lot we don't know right now."

An Uber representative confirmed Dalton was a company driver and had passed background checks.

The attack renewed interest in how the company screens drivers, who use their personal vehicles to ferry customers at prices generally below those of established taxi companies. Critics say the company never meets potential drivers in person.

Getting said on Sunday the victims apparently were chosen at random and shot multiple times.

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

Dalton allegedly opened fire outside the restaurant about 15 minutes later, killing four women identified as Mary Lou Nye, 62, of Baroda, Michigan; and Dorothy Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; and Mary Jo Nye, 60, all of Battle Creek, Michigan, state police said.

He was arrested without incident while driving away from the parking lot.

The Detroit Free Press said neighbors described Dalton as a father of two who "loved guns," worked on cars and had a day job as an insurance salesman.

Uber passenger Matt Mellen said he got into a car with a man who was probably Dalton about an hour before the shootings started and taken on a terrifying trip.

"We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along and when we came to a stop, I jumped out the car and ran away," Mellen told local TV broadcaster WMMT.

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