- Mark Rein
Rideshare Rampage in Kalamazoo
Welcome to Crime Raven; true crimes, real-life stories from law enforcement and issues crime fighters face. This blog highlights crimes researched by retired Detective Sergeant Mark Rein, using publicly available information, court records, and personal recollections. Content may be graphic, disturbing, or violent. Reader discretion is advised. Suspects are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.
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Driver circled the apartment complex. The idiot was supposed to pick up was nowhere to be seen. His iPhone was her accomplice as the mockery continued. I'm here. I'm here. Where are you? No, I'm here.
He was sure she was just fucking with him. It happened all the time. He did his best to speed over to a place and was canceled just as he got there.
Driver had only been the slave to the phone for two weeks, but some calls made it seem like an eternity. Come. Fetch. Take. Drop. Never even a good boy for his trouble. These motherfuckers. It was the drip, drip, drip of slights that got him. Those slights added up.
He heard the way they talked about him, the whispered jokes. Like he was beneath them. They were the lords and ladies. He was just, well, Driver. In this world of chaos, there was no respect.
Today he brought his dog. A little fuck you. You wanna ride? You better like my big ass German Shepherd breathing down your neck, because I'm in charge here. You're in my car.
This was the first fair of the day when he finally found where here was. He wasn't psychic, but she wouldn't get in with the dog. Bitch. He drove away. Fucking waste of time.
Next guy got in. He liked dogs. He seemed okay, but that last girl really pissed him off. Who didn't like dogs? Driver gripped the wheel 10 and two. Jaw clenched, white knuckles on full display.
Fuck traffic. Too slow. He floored it, swerving into the oncoming crowded lanes. Horns blared. Tires squealed. People shouted as he blasted, pasted the startled motorists. They jerked their cars to one side or the other for survival. One didn't make it. Sideswiped, it caromed the curb. Driver continued without stopping.
The collision was the jolt that the passenger needed to break the startled silence. Driver heard and tried to ignore as, "dude, you hit that car." Turned to "You're gonna kill us" then a wailing. Please, just let me out."
Driver thought, screw that. I'm in charge. He didn't stop. He was genuinely surprised, almost laughed when, as he cut a sharp left, the kid opened the door and rolled out onto the ground. Driver saw him bounce across the asphalt. The passenger door whipping fully open through the arc of the turn before slamming shut as he accelerated away. Good riddance. Pussy.
A couple of blocks later, Driver checked the app. He accepted a fare. Macy, at a nearby apartment complex. She wanted a ride. Wonderful. Driver wanted to see if Macy liked the fucking dog.
A few minutes later, he pulled up. It was a big complex. No Macy. A few minutes, still no Macy. Driver sent her a text. A few unhelpful directions from Macy. He was there. Macy was pissing him off.
A woman and some kids came out from the apartment building. Driver pulled forward. Hey, are you Macy? The woman gave him a don't bother me look. Not Macy. Driver started to pull away. Then it hit him. Maybe it is Macy, and she doesn't like the dog. Maybe she's just messing with me, wasting my time.
He circled back toward the woman. She looked over her shoulder at him just as he brought the pistol across his chest and held it out the side window with a two-handed grip.
The woman, eyes wide, screamed something. The kid scattered, but she wasn't fast enough to outrun driver's nine millimeter. He fired, and at this range, he could spot the hits. He continued shooting even after she was on the ground. Then he jammed the accelerator to the floor.
Driver bolted back out into city traffic, which was still moving way too slow. Again, he swerved into oncoming lanes, battling against chaos, ricocheting off another car. He had just killed somebody. This realization and the exhilaration washed through him. He felt unstoppable, but there had been a problem with the gun, a jam, or something.
Driver pulled into a nearby house, his parents' place. Good thing they were off on vacation. He switched his broken silver SUV for a black one, a color that complimented the night ahead.
Then a weapon swap. He considered a long gun and decided against it. He grabbed a new pistol, the same caliber, nine millimeter. His favorite.
Newly equipped driver was reborn onto the mean streets. He had crossed his Rubicon. He was a predator now. Looking for just the right kill. The kill that would satisfy that itch. The one that would even the score and set things right.
Driver made a little money while he searched. The next couple of fares went off without a hitch. They were normal, reasonable riders. People in a hurry. They were where they said they would be when they said they would be. The kind of people who deserved to get where they were going. So, he took them.
After making the drop-offs, Driver visited a nearby car dealership. They had a used BMW he was interested in. The lot was closed, but he still wanted to have a look. When he arrived, he saw two men standing near his BMW. The damn lot is closed. What are they doing here? With closer scrutiny, he read the situation.
It was a father and a son checking out a pickup truck, but they were close to his BMW. Interrupting that private viewing he wanted. He should be able to look at the BMW at 10 o'clock without other people competing with him. Their presence annoyed him.
Driver parked and stalked closer. Both men, one young, one old, looked at him with the same suspicious eyes as he approached. When he was close enough that he couldn't miss, he pulled the pistol from his pocket and sent them and the world a message. Pow. They would never call for a ride. Pow. They would never interrupt his car shopping again. Pow. He was teaching them respect.
Driver pulled the trigger over and over again. In the hail of bullets, the father turned towards the son as if to shield him, but he wasn't fast enough. Seconds later, Driver found himself standing over the two bodies, one partially draped over the other in a gruesome embrace. Then Driver did what he came to do. He took time to admire his BMW.
All of driver's trepidation was behind him now. This past afternoon and evening had been a dry run, with anger carrying him across the finish line. He left the scene of his latest kill exhilarated. Inspired. The wrongness, the rightness, a cocaine jolt to his tedious life. Now, Driver was cruising for the big hit. He was the reaper, the hand of fate, rolling the dice.
He spotted a couple of cars in the otherwise empty Cracker Barrel lot. As he passed, he saw a bunch of ladies under dome lights talking. He circled back. Then he parked across the lot and approached on foot.
Fate had predator style. He couldn't just wing off some rounds. The first had to be the driver. He stood at the side window. Peered through the glass. The two cars actually held five. They all looked nervous as he walked up. They should be afraid. She put down the window. He asked for a dollar. She couldn't know, but any answer was wrong. Still, it stung a little to be denied. That was the last mistake she was ever gonna make.
Pow. Headshot. Driver. Pow. Headshot. Backseat. Fish in a barrel. They didn't even try to run. They just screamed. Good. Now they felt his pain. He walked calmly around, circling each car. Firing. Making the hits. Making the kills. Powerful, unstoppable, indestructible.
On the afternoon of Saturday, February 20th, 2016, Jason Dalton, a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo, Michigan, left his home to work a shift as an Uber driver. Over the course of the following six hours, he would take several fares safely to their destinations. He would also shoot eight people. Six of those would die.
Examining how this spree occurred would be the easy, albeit painful, part. Understanding his motive, the why, would prove elusive. As investigators and reporters pieced together the events, this is what they found.
Dalton drove for Uber part-time. He started his shift in his silver Chevy Equinox. This model car is a crossover vehicle. Mid-sized has four doors and is spacious enough for people to get in and out of easily. It's small enough to be merciful on the wallet when refueling.
On this day, Dalton traveled with a partner, his black German Shepherd named Mia. Uber's rules allowed drivers to have animals as long as it didn't create safety complaints.
Dalton's first fare, a female college student, saw Mia and refused to get into the car. Dalton didn't immediately react to the rebuff. He simply drove away and picked up the next rider in line, a young man named Matt. During the first part of the ride, Matt and Dalton exchanged pleasantries, which were interrupted when the driver received a phone call. Matt later said he didn't notice anything unusual about the conversation. He didn't hear Dalton's voice change tone, so he didn't have any warning that things were about to go sideways.
Matt said that one moment the drive was normal. The next, it was as if the driver had gone
crazy. As he ended his call, Dalton floored the accelerator. He sped and swerved across oncoming lanes of traffic, recklessly blowing through red lights and stop signs. Narrowly missing cars, then sideswiping one, bouncing off and continuing to barrel down crowded streets.
Horrified from the passenger seat, matt screamed at Dalton, who acted as if everything was normal. Matt pleaded with the driver to pull over and let him out. Dalton ignored him. At one point, the car slowed while turning and the passenger jumped out, falling and skidding across the pavement. Stunned, Matt lay laying the roadway on his back as he watched the Equinox speed away.
Kalamazoo area 9 1 1 dispatchers received three calls from this incident. First, the driver of the Ford Taurus that had been sideswiped. Next, the passenger Matt Mellon. Then a woman who'd been enjoying a Saturday afternoon on her front porch when she saw Matt flop onto the roadway nearby.
Dalton drove his damaged Chevy Equinox home. Once there, he equipped himself with a nine millimeter Glock pistol, ammunition, and a ballistic vest. Dalton surveyed the fresh damage to his car and determined that it needed to be swapped out. He called his wife, who was out running errands. She agreed to meet him at Dalton's parents' house in North Kalamazoo when she finished what she was doing.
In the interim, Dalton took an Uber dispatch. At about 5:00 PM a high school girl named Macy called an Uber to pick up her boyfriend in northeast Kalamazoo. Dee Allen, Macy's boyfriend, lived in a complex known as Meadows Town Homes.
The Uber request was to pick DeeAllen up from Meadows and transport him to Macy's house nearby. When she entered the Uber request, Macy entered the address for the main office, not Dee Allen's building. A short time after arriving for the pickup, Dalton texted Macy for clarification. Macy texted back some more information and later asked for progress, but received nothing back.
On his end, Dalton drove around the Meadows parking lots, increasingly frustrated, not being flagged, and not finding a rider.
Tiana Caruthers was a resident at the Meadows. In the early evening she left her building, walking a contingent of five children, one of them her own daughter, towards the playground. As they crossed the parking lot, a man in a damaged Chevy Equinox pulled up and asked Tiana if she was Macy.
Disappointed, Dalton pulled away, but then circled back in the parking lot. As the car came back around, the driver pointed a pistol out the side window and began firing.
Tiana screamed for the children to run, even as the rounds were hitting her. She was driven to the ground with shots through both legs. One was fractured. Another bullet hit when she was already down, traveling through her hip upward into her abdomen and penetrating her liver. Immobilized, Tiana's only defense was to play dead.
After the shooting, Dalton once again recklessly sped away. Witnesses reported seeing driving in excess of 70 miles an hour as he blew through a red light and sideswiped a second car. Dalton returned to the original plan. His parents, who were out of town, lived in a house near the Meadows Apartments. His wife was due to meet him there.
Once he arrived, Dalton pulled the Equinox into the garage. Dalton's wife, Carol, and their two kids were not far behind it. Alarmed Carol when she looked at the damage to their Equinox. Dalton explained to her that he had been the victim of a deranged taxi driver who hated Uber competition. He assured Carol that the incident was being handled and that she might even see it on the news.
After the meeting with Carol, Dalton borrowed his parents' Black 2011 HHR, another Chevy crossover vehicle, and went back to work. His priority was to beat Carol back to their house. The Glock pistol had malfunctioned during the first shooting, so Dalton exchanged it for his Walter P 99, also a nine millimeter semi-auto.
Then he went right back to picking up Uber callers. Several of the passengers who rode with Dalton after 8:00 PM said they didn't notice anything unusual. Their driver seemed to be in a good mood. Sometimes he was chatty. Sometimes he hummed along to music.
Dalton searched as he drove. He found what he was looking for around 10:00 PM. 17-year-old Tyler Smith and his father had been used truck shopping for much of the day with Alexis, Tyler's high school girlfriend, along.