Suspect in Kalamazoo mass shootings: ‘I’d prefer to remain silent’

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)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Suspected mass murderer Jason Dalton confessed to police he “took people’s lives” but hasn’t shown remorse, police said Monday.

Dalton, 45, of Cooper Township, was quiet during most of his Monday arraignment in Kalamazoo District Court on 16 charges — six counts of open murder, two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felony firearm.

At one point, he appeared to yawn as the judge named those he is accused of killing and trying to kill late Saturday, allegedly between giving rides to fares as an Uber driver.

When the judge asked about bond, he said, “I would prefer to just remain silent.”

Inside and outside the courtroom, police and prosecutors revealed more details of the rampage that spanned nearly five hours and included three separate crime scenes.

Perhaps the most unsettling: “From his responses, there’s very little remorse — about anything,” Michigan State Police 1st Lt. Chuck Christensen said outside the courtroom.

Among the new revelations: Dalton was armed with a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol and had more ammunition on him when he was arrested around 12:40 a.m. during a traffic stop in Kalamazoo. Police said they believe he wasn’t done with his spree.

What police said they don’t know yet is a motive.

“These were random, unprovoked attacks,” Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said after the arraignment.

After the first shooting, police said, Dalton drove away in a silver Chevrolet Equinox, sideswiped a car, then switched to a dark Chevrolet HHR.

The prosecutor also told 24 Hour News 8 that Dalton spoke to his victims before opening fire.

“There was contact between them before he started shooting,” he said.

“This was not a just a momentary lapse; this was not just a crime; there was nothing that provoked this,” Getting said. “There is videotape of these incidences. He walked up on these people and he shot them.”

Target 8 investigators dug through records on Monday, hoping to find something that might help explain what happened. There was nothing.

Dalton has been married 20 years, according to his marriage license. He and his wife bought their home near Kalamazoo 18 years ago for $109,000. He had no criminal record, but has been ticketed a half-dozen times for speeding.

Police said they don’t know of any history of mental illness.

“This is a loss of innocence, really a terrible moment in this community,” the prosecutor said. “We’ve faced violence like any other community does, but nothing on this scale, nothing like this has ever happened like this before. We’re struggling, we’re struggling with fear, we’re struggling with sadness.

“We’ve lost six people, we have a 14-year-old girl clinging to live. We have another victim who is recovering, thankfully.

“Nobody understands why it happened and that adds to the fear and the sorrow and all of it that goes along with this. It’ll take some time. This is a very strong community. We will get past this. We will recover from this. We will get back to where we were before this happened.”

The owner of Southwick’s, a gun shop in Allegan County, told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday that Dalton came into his store hours before the shooting spree started. He said Dalton bought a 5.11 jacket, which is typically used for tactical purposes.

A judge denied bail for Dalton; his next court hearing is scheduled for March 3.

A large crowd gathered Sunday night honor the victims: 53-year-old Richard Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler, both of Kalamazoo; 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye of Battle Creek, her 62-year-old sister-in-law Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, both of Battle Creek.

“The national spotlight has shined bright on Kalamazoo in the last 24 hours and not in the manner that we would like it,” Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley told 24 Hour News 8 on Monday morning. “Our heart continues to go out to the families of the victims from the shooting. We’re here for them and we’re going to do our best as a community to support them.”

Additional events were held on Monday for the community to remember the victims and mourn their loss. There was a Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral in Kalamazoo and another community vigil was held in the evening at First Congregational Church in downtown Kalamazoo.

Gov. Rick Snyder has ordered flags lowered to half-staff for six days starting Monday to honor the six victims killed in Kalamazoo.

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