The Kalamazoo, Michigan shooter who killed six said Uber’s app made him do it

Jason Dalton.
Jason Dalton.
Image: Reuters / handout
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When Kalamazoo, Michigan resident Jason Dalton was arrested last month and charged with killing six civilians while completing shifts as an Uber driver, police could originally find no motive for the crime. But in the police report about the killings, released publicly today (March 15), Dalton claims that Uber’s app possessed him.

According to the police report (.pdf) filed on March 3, Dalton claims that he doesn’t remember shooting anyone on the night of the murders. When he logged on, the app “switched from black to red,” and Dalton began “seeing himself outside his body.

One of Dalton’s interviewers recounts that when Dalton opened the app that night, “he recognized the symbol as being that of the Eastern Star, and a devil head popped up on his screen and when he pressed the button on his app, the problems started.” Dalton described the devil as “a horned cow head or something like that that would give you an assignment and it would literally take over your whole body.”

He told another interviewer “when he logged on to the site [referring to the Uber app] it started making him be like a puppet.” While Dalton doesn’t describe the shootings in detail, he adds that once the police stopped him he was considering a shootout, but the app “went from the black symbol back to the red,” which “stopped his thought.”

Dalton then told police “he is not a killer and he knows that he has killed,” the report said.

Dalton added that he did not have a Concealed Pistol License (CPL), which permits Michigan residents to carry a pistol concealed on his body or in a vehicle. He stated that he typically keeps his gun locked at home. He claims to have purchased the bulletproof vest he wore at the time of the shootings for $100 from a pawn shop.

Dalton also told police that he began driving for Uber on the Thursday before the incidents in order to make extra cash outside of his insurance day job. He was making about $50-80 per day. According to the report, Dalton says he did not meet with any Uber representatives in-person or receive any paperwork in order to become a driver, all he did was submit photos of his license plate and insurance through the app. He was not driving the car that he registered with Uber the night of the shootings, he said, but no customers noticed.

Uber’s critics have continually scrutinized its background check procedures for drivers, as well as its commitment to safety. Dalton’s case brought national attention to the issue—especially because an Uber passenger called the company to report his erratic driving before the killings. During a telephone conference after the shooting, Uber’s chief security officer Joe Sullivan defended the company’s commitment to safety, saying Dalton had no criminal record before the incident, a “good” rating, and that Uber has a policy that forbids bringing firearms into vehicles.

Dalton has been charged with six counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder, and eight felony firearm crimes. He will undergo an in-court psychiatric exam to determine whether he is mentally competent to stand trial.