TEXAS TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Six people are dead and two seriously wounded after a shooter opened fire at three different locations in the Kalamazoo area over the course of nearly five hours Saturday night.
Michigan State Police on Sunday identified the four victims killed at one of the crime scenes, a Cracker Barrel restaurant, as:
- Mary Lou Nye, 63, of Baroda, Mich.
- Mary Jo Nye, 60, of Battle Creek
- Dorothy Brown, 74, of Battle Creek
- Barbara Hawthorne, 68, of Battle Creek
Mattawan Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robin Buchler confirmed the two victims killed at another scene, a car dealership, are Tyler Smith and his father, Rich.
A candlelight vigil for the victims is scheduled for Sunday night. Additionally, the Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo said a special mass will be held Monday afternoon.
Sunday morning, police identified the suspect they have in custody as 45-year-old Jason Dalton.
“There is no connection between any of [the victims]. This all appears to be random,” Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas said early Sunday. “This is your worst-case scenario that any community can have.”
“This tragedy is absolutely ridiculous,” MSP 1st Lt. Dale Hinz said early Sunday, who added that he had never seen anything like this situation.
When asked if Dalton had indicated a possible motive, he replied, “I don’t think there is a why.”
Dalton, who MSP said is believed to have acted alone, was arrested more than two hours after the final shooting. He was an Uber driver, and police are investigating reports that he took fares in between the shootings.
THREE SCENES, FIVE HOURS, EIGHT VICTIMS
The scene at the Meadows Townhomes the day after the shooting.
The investigation began around 5:45 p.m. Saturday at the Meadows Townhomes parking lot in Richland Township, where police said a woman was shot several times.
Matyas said she was outside with her three children when she was wounded. She was severely injured but is expected to survive, authorities said Sunday.
At least ten shots were fired at that scene, evidence markers showed. Four of those bullets went into a nearby apartment, though no one in that apartment was shot.
A witness at the scene told 24 Hour News 8 that they believed that the shooter “came to kill.”
Around 10:08 p.m., police were called to Seelye Ford KIA dealership located at 3820 Stadium Dr. in Kalamazoo. Matyas said two people, a father and his 18-year-old son, were shot and killed at the dealership.
The Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said it will not release the names of the victims at the dealership until Monday, but they were identified by the Mattawan Consolidated Schools superintendent as Tyler Smith and his father, Rich Smith.
Witnesses told 24 Hour News 8 they drove by the dealership after police responded and saw two bodies on the ground. They initially thought police were making an arrest.
Around 10:24 p.m., officers were called to the parking lot of the Cracker Barrel in the area of I-94 and S. 9th Street in Texas Township.
MSP says Dalton approached an Oldsmobile Silhoutte minivan and Chevrolet Cruze sedan before firing into both vehicles.
Police said the four women were killed and a 14-year-old girl was gravely injured.
Mary Lou Nye was driving the minivan. Mary Jo Nye was driving the Cruze. Dorothy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne and the teen were passengers in the Cruze. The teen’s name was not released Sunday.
At one point in the early hours of Sunday, authorities were saying all five victims shot at the Cracker Barrel had died before changing the number of fatalities there back to four. MSP Lt. Hinz, the commander of the Paw Paw Post, confirmed to 24 Hour News 8 later that the 14-year-old had been pronounced dead, but then squeezed her mother’s hand.
Sunday morning, the prosecutor said that at his last check, the teen was headed into surgery. He was considering that good news.
In the afternoon, Gov. Rick Snyder met with the 14-year-old’s family. He told 24 Hour News 8 the girl was fighting for her life.
The red sedan towed from the scene had two rear windows shot out and a bullet hole through the windshield on the driver’s side. A white minivan also taken from the scene had the driver’s side window and middle window on the passenger’s side shot out.
Around 12:40 a.m. Sunday, officers spotted the suspect vehicle — a black Chevrolet HHR — pulling out of Rugger’s Up & Under Bar on W. Michigan Avenue in Kalamazoo. Authorities said Dalton didn’t put up a fight when he was pulled over about a mile away from the bar in the area of Ransom and Porter streets and was then arrested.
MSP Lt. Hinz said Dalton and his vehicle matched the description of the suspect and getaway vehicle, a black Chevrolet HHR, in the shootings.
Matyas said there was a weapon inside the HHR. Getting later said it was unclear if that weapon was registered to Dalton.
Getting said authorities were not aware of Dalton having any history of mental illness. They said he was not believed to have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Shortly before a 7 a.m. news conference, KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley said it was “extremely baffling” why Dalton allegedly committed the attacks.
“We have no idea why this happened. We have not gotten any indication initially from our interview with Mr. Dalton as to the reasons behind his behavior,” he said. “That’s the million-dollar question right now.”
He said investigators intended to go through phone and computer records and talk to people Dalton knew in an attempt to determine what led up to the shootings.
Hadley fought back tears as he thought of the victim’s families.
“Our deepest and profound sympathies go out to the families. … My heart truly goes out to them,” he said. “For the community, [I] just ask for prayers and that we put our arms around these families, we help them.”
Dalton was expected to be in court Monday, the prosecutor said, and will face multiple murder charges.
Getting said Dalton was in contact with someone at times during the spree, but would not disclose who. He said Dalton is likely the only person who will face charges.
Sunday, a sign on the door of the Cracker Barrel said it would remain closed until Monday.