A rampaging Michigan gunman turned a Kalamazoo into a killing field late Saturday as he randomly opened fire on strangers during an hours-long drive.
Suspected gunman Jason Dalton, 45, killed six people and wounded two in a rolling crime spree that spanned twelve miles across the city.
The shootings claimed the lives of a father and 18-year-old son who were browsing the brightly-lit parking lot of a Kia dealership, police said.
The gunman also fatally shot four people parked outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant. A 14-year-old girl was critically wounded, and is clinging to life at a nearby hospital.
“They had no participation in what led to their not being with us anymore,” Kalamazoo Police Chief Jeff Hadley said.
Dalton, of Kalamazoo, was pulled over Sunday after a deputy spotted his vehicle — the same one seen in surveillance footage leaving a bar’s parking lot, said Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeffrey Getting.
“He seemed even-tempered,” said Getting, describing Dalton’s night-long interview with investigators.
Detectives searched Dalton’s home near Cooper Township, about five miles north of Kalamazoo, after officers found a semi-automatic handgun in his vehicle, authorities said.
It’s unclear what motivated the suspect to target random civilians.
“We have no idea why this happened,” Hadley said. “It is extremely baffling. This is completely random, unpredictable and unprovoked. That’s the million dollar question.”
Dalton allegedly blasted his victims “dead in their tracks” from the seat of a dark blue or silver Chevrolet HHR crossover, officials said.
He has no criminal history in Michigan, authorities said.
“This is your worst nightmare, where you have someone driving around killing people, said Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Undersheriff Paul Matyas said after the suspect’s arrest.
The shooting spree started around 6 p.m. when Dalton critically wounded a woman walking with two children outside the Meadows Townhomes complex in Richland Township, authorities said. Neither of the children was hurt.
Matyas said it’s “lucky the children weren’t killed.”
A gap of four hours passed until Dalton opened fire at the car dealership. Fifteen minutes later, Dalton drove four miles to the Cracker Barrel parking lot, spraying the bullets that killed four people.
Initial reports said the 14-year-old girl died, citing erroneous information passed along to law enforcement agencies.
“I’m going to cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope like hell she does (survive),” Getting said.
The victims have not been identified.