The man police say shot and killed six people in Kalamazoo, Mich., last month told officers that he was being controlled by the Uber app on his phone at the time of the rampage, according to authorities.
When a police officer asked Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton about the shooting, he told them that when he opened the company’s app, a symbol appeared that “would literally take over your whole body,” an officer wrote in a police report released Monday.
During an interview with detectives, Dalton said he did not remember shooting people, though he acknowledged that the families of people killed deserved an explanation for what happened. After talking with detectives for some time, Dalton was asked for an explanation and said that the reason “would blow [their] minds,” Det. William Moorian of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety wrote in his report on the interview.
“Dalton said that he understands now how the other mass shootings take place,” Moorian wrote. “Dalton explained how he has experienced a full body takeover, that is how he can understand the other mass shootings.”
Dalton told detectives that he believed the Uber app controlled him, and said he invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination earlier in the interview to avoid coming across as a crazy person, Moorian wrote. The accused gunman went on to tell police that a symbol appeared — a devil-like image with horns — and said it would give him an assignment that he would follow while seeing himself from outside of his body, Moorian wrote.
He went on to tell detectives “about the Masons and the Eastern Star symbol” that he said popped up on the phone, but what he said “didn’t make any sense,” Moorian added. In an interview with another detective, Dalton said when he saw the Uber app shift from a red color to black, that is when he would get taken over “like a puppet.”
Uber declined to comment on the report’s release and Dalton’s statements.
In the days and weeks since Dalton allegedly gunned down random strangers while he was picking up fares for the service, investigators and neighbors alike have said they are bewildered by the Feb. 20 rampage.
During the spree, police said that Dalton shot eight people — six of them fatally — over a period of four hours, during which they say he also picked up Uber fares. The victims included a high school senior and a 74-year-old woman. One of the victims who survived is a 14-year-old who was shot in the head; she was released from the hospital last week and moved to an inpatient rehabilitation center.
Earlier this month, a judge ordered that Dalton undergo a mental competency examination to see if he can stand trial. Jeffrey S. Getting, the Kalamazoo County prosecuting attorney, said Monday he expected the evaluation to be completed soon. Dalton’s court-appointed attorney, Eusebio Solis, could not immediately be reached for a comment Monday.
The Kalamazoo rampage is the latest in a line of mass shootings that have rocked communities across the country, and while in some ways Dalton fit the profile of a typical mass shooter — a white man without a criminal record — this spree was unusual in that it veered from place to place with seemingly no explanation.
While authorities said Dalton made “incriminating statements” after he was arrested, they said they struggled to find a motivation for what caused the violent eruption. Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley called the rampage “baffling.”
In the police report released by the Kalamazoo City Attorney’s Office on Monday, authorities also offered a timeline of their response to the shooting, describing traveling from the scene of Dalton’s arrest to informing relatives of one of the victims about their death. They then traveled to Dalton’s home, where police say more than a dozen pistols, rifles and shotguns were found, along with boxes of ammunition.
During his interview with authorities, Dalton, who began driving for Uber in January, said he was unable to uninstall the app at any point because “it sort of had you at a certain point,” Moorian wrote. The rampage ended when Dalton was taken into custody by police hours after the gunfire began. Moorian wrote that Dalton said he gave up and didn’t try to shoot a police officer because the Uber app no longer had control over him at that point.
This story has been updated.