He was picking up rides while taking lives.
Jason Dalton, the accused gunman in the Kalamazoo, Mich., shootings that left six people dead, worked as an Uber driver and took fares in between shootings, customers said Sunday.
Police told the Daily News the attacks by Dalton, 45, at three different sites in the Kalamazoo area appeared to be “completely random.”
“They were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley said, adding that all victims had their own cars nearby when they were killed.
“Nothing would lead us to believe that the victims had called for a ride,” Hadley said.
Dalton allegedly shot a woman multiple times outside Meadows Townhomes around 5:40 p.m., leaving her in serious condition. At 10:08 p.m., he opened fire on Richard Smith and his 18-year-old son, Tyler Smith, outside a car dealership, killing them both, police said.
About 20 minutes later and 4 miles away, he shot at two cars in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, killing four women and gravely wounding a 14-year-old girl, authorities said.
Police apprehended Dalton around 12:40 a.m. after a deputy spotted his Chevrolet HHR station wagon. He was arrested without incident and had firearms in his ride, authorities said.
It was unclear what made Dalton snap. He had no criminal record, and Uber said he passed the company’s background check.
Chillingly, several customers on social media said Dalton picked up fares before and after the carnage began.
Matt Mellen is glad to be alive after hitching a ride with Dalton hours before the first shooting Saturday. He found himself face-to-face with Dalton’s dog in the backseat and the soon-to-be shooting suspect, who introduced himself as “Mimi.”
“I’m just happy I’m safe,” Mellen told WWMT-TV. “He got a telephone call and then he started driving erratically. We were driving through mediums, over lawns, speeding along.”
Dalton eventually came to a stop prompting Dalton to leap out of the driver’s vehicle.
His fiancé, complained on Facebook about Mellen’s ride with Dalton not realizing he would be named the alleged killer of six people. She posted what appeared to be Dalton’s Uber profile picture, and stated he was “driving VERY erratically.”
Dalton “sideswiped a car,” drove 80 mph and swerved “in and out of oncoming traffic,” the post said.
“He was acting completely normal throughout all of this erratic driving!!” the woman wrote.
“Hoping this man will be arrested or hospitalized soon if he has a medical condition causing his behavior.”
Another passenger visiting Kalamazoo with his family said he ordered an Uber out of an abundance of caution because he knew a killer was on the loose — but then ended up face to face with the suspect.
The man, who asked only to be identified as Derek, told NBC affiliate WOODTV he even joked with the driver.
“I kind of jokingly said to the driver, ‘You’re not the shooter, are you?’ He gave me some sort of a ‘no’ response, shook his head. I said, ‘Are you sure?’ And he said, ‘No, I’m not, I’m just tired,’” Derek recalled to the news station, which published a receipt from the ride.
About 20 minutes later, Dalton was in handcuffs.
Two sisters in the Kalamazoo area said they’d also had recent Uber encounters with Dalton.
Megan Knight said a co-worker at Olive Garden ordered a ride from Dalton at 11:13 p.m. Saturday — hours after Dalton’s alleged rampage started. But the friend canceled the ride at the last minute, because she wasn’t ready to leave just yet, Knight said.
“She said she had chills” when she learned the suspect’s identity, Knight said.
Neighbors said Dalton worked as an insurance salesman, married his high school sweetheart and had two kids.
Gary Pardo, 72, said Dalton owned a gun, which he’d fired three or four times over the years to ward off people he suspected of breaking into his garage.
“He was a really nice guy, family-oriented,” Pardo said. “I never would have imagined he’d be capable of something like this.”
“This seems so out of sorts for him,” Pardo told CNN, adding, “I know he liked guns.”
As authorities sought to make sense of the shooting, politicians and gun-reform advocates bemoaned yet another massacre in America.
“Unfortunately, we’ve seen it so often it feels now commonplace,” Mayor de Blasio said, addressing a congregation in Brooklyn.