Uber customers share experiences in shooting suspect's vehicle on night of rampage
KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Suspected gunman Jason Dalton was working as an Uber driver before, during and after he allegedly shot eight people across Kalamazoo County.
A Kalamazoo man tells us he was his passenger just hours before the alleged spree and he says he warned authorities.
He is shaken but grateful. He tells us the minute he got into the car, he knew something was wrong.
Matt Mellen says Dalton introduced himself as "Me-Me" and had his dog in the back of his car. The next thing Matt knew, Dalton was driving 80 miles an hour down West Main, sideswiping cars.
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Matt Mellen is counting his lucky stars.
"Pretty scary ordeal. Especially to be so closely involved with it. I'm just happy I'm safe," said Mellen.
Mellan was a passenger in alleged gunman Jason Dalton's car while he was working as an Uber driver before allegedly opening fire on eight people across Kalamazoo County.
Mellen says Dalton was acting strange.
"He introduced himself with a different name than what Jason was that comes up for Uber," said Mellen.
Sitting in the back of that Chevy Equinox was Dalton's dog.
"We got a mile from my house and then he got a telephone call and after he got that telephone call he started driving really erratically. We were running stop signs," said Mellen.
Dalton allegedly hit 80 miles an hour down West Main Avenue while sideswiping cars.
"We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along and when we came to a stop, I jumped out the car and ran away," said Mellen.
Mellen says that's when he called police.
"He wouldn't stop. He just kind of kept looking at me like don't you want to get to your friend's house and I'm like I want to get there alive," Mellen said.
Once he got to his friend's house, he told his fiance' what happened. She posted a warning so others wouldn't be harmed.
"We posted the picture on Facebook just so our friends wouldn't get in the car with him if they had to take an Uber that night," said his fiance.
Mellen says he jumped out of Dalton's car around 4:30 Saturday afternoon. Police believe Dalton opened fire at the Meadows Townhomes around 6:00 before allegedly shooting seven more people between 10:00 and 10:30.
"I'm upset because I tried contacting Uber after I had talked to the police, saying that we needed to get this guy off the road," said Mellen.
Another Newschannel 3 viewer posting an Uber notification saying she was scheduled for a pickup by Dalton at 11:19. By that time, six people already gunned down.
Reporter: And you said through this whole time he was surprisingly calm?
Mellen: Yea, yea surprisingly calm because I was freaking out.
Police later apprehended Dalton in downtown Kalamazoo around 12:30.
Mellen says there needs to be a faster response when Uber drivers show erratic behavior.
We also now know Dalton was arrested shortly after driving three more people to a downtown bar after the last reported shooting. We're now hearing from those last passengers.
Mark Dunton, Scott Dixon and Kevin Leonard say they called for an Uber Saturday night only to have Jason Dalton pull up to the curb.
The three said they had heard about the shooting spree and the suspect's car, so Dunton says he was a little unnerved when the same type of vehicle came to pick them up.
"Quiet really. We actually, my buddy Scott actually said to him 'this isn't the HHR, you aren't the guy are ya?' and he kinda just said no," said Dunton. "It's crazy to think that someone could have gone out and just done all these horrible things and came to work straight-faced -- like he's just coming to work doing his job and just didn't say much at all."
The Chief Security Officer for Uber released a statement online, saying quote:
We are horrified and heartbroken at the senseless violence in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Our hearts and prayers are with the families of the victims of this devastating crime and those recovering from injuries.
We have reached out to police to help with their investigation in any way we can.
An Indiana couple in Kalamazoo says they also requested an Uber this Saturday night.
They're also speaking out after they say they ended up in Dalton's back seat.
"And I halfheartedly joked at him and said... 'You're not the shooter are you?' said the man.