The latest on the shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) -- A gunman who seemed to choose his victims at random opened fire outside an apartment complex, a car dealership and a restaurant in Michigan, killing at least six people during a rampage that lasted nearly seven hours, police said.

Authorities identified the shooter as Jason Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver who police said had no criminal record. They could not say what motivated him in the Saturday night shootings to target victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other.

"How do you go and tell the families of these victims that they weren't targeted for any reason other than they were there to be a target?" Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said Sunday at a news conference.

Dalton, who was arrested in Kalamazoo following a massive manhunt, was expected to be arraigned Monday on murder charges.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6 p.m. Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 18-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at cars at the dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, Matyas said. Four of them died.

"These are random murders," Matyas said.

Dalton was arrested without incident about 12:40 a.m. Sunday after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Matyas declined to disclose anything found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

By midday, authorities were investigating a Facebook post that indicated the suspect was driving for Uber during the manhunt and had taken at least one fare, Getting said.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton had driven for the company in the past, but she declined to say whether he was driving Saturday night.

Uber prohibits both passengers and drivers from possessing guns of any kind in a vehicle. Anyone found to be in violation of the policy may be prohibited from using or driving for the service.

A man who knows Dalton said he was a married father of two who never showed any signs of violence.

Gary Pardo Jr., whose parents live across the street from Dalton in Kalamazoo Township, described him as a family man who seemed fixated on cars and often worked on them.

"He would go a month without mowing his lawn but was very meticulous with his cars," Pardo said, explaining that Dalton, at times, owned a Chevrolet Camaro and two Hummer SUVs.

Progressive Insurance confirmed that he once worked for the company before leaving in 2011.

Dalton was an insurance adjuster who did auto body estimates and once taught an auto-body repair class at an area community college, said James Block, who has lived next door to him for 17 years.

"He loved to do things outside with his kids" like taking them for rides on his lawn tractor, Block said.

Dalton's wife and children were unhurt, authorities said.

The suspect was in contact with more than one person during the rampage, authorities said, but they would not elaborate. Prosecutors said they do not expect to charge anyone else.

Authorities were interviewing Dalton and reviewing his phone. They did not know if the handgun belonged to him, Getting said.

"This is every community's nightmare -- when you have someone going around just randomly killing people, no rhyme, no reason," Getting said.

Tammy George said the woman who was shot outside the apartment building is her next-door neighbor. She and her family heard the gunfire, ran outside and saw the woman on the ground.

Four bullets flew into a closet of George's home, she said. Her son, James, was playing video games with two friends a few feet away from where the bullets pierced the wall.

"I checked out the back window and saw a car speeding off," said James George, 17.

On Sunday morning, Tammy George came outside to clean the parking lot.

"I was worried about the kids coming out and seeing their mom's blood," she said. "I cleaned it up. No kid should have to come out and see their parent's blood on the ground."

During a Sunday morning news conference, some law enforcement officials wiped teary eyes or got choked up. When the news conference ended, Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell and Department of Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley embraced.

The four people killed outside the restaurant were identified as 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda and 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek.

Police did not release the names of the two victims killed at the car dealership, but Mattawan Consolidated Schools Superintendent Robin Buchler confirmed they were Tyler Smith and his father, Rich.

A 14-year-old girl wounded at the restaurant was hospitalized in critical condition.

With a population of about 75,000, Kalamazoo is about 160 miles west of Detroit. It is home to Western Michigan University and the headquarters of popular craft beer maker Bell's Brewery. The city also is known for the anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise program, which has paid college tuition of students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools for more than a decade.


A dedicated teacher who mentored numerous students. A gardener who enjoyed sharing what she grew. A mother known for her pleasant demeanor even when faced with adversity.

These are the ways friends and colleagues are remembering the victims of a shooting rampage in western Michigan. Four of them were killed in two vehicles Saturday outside of a restaurant, while a father and son were shot at a car dealership.

Below are some of their stories.

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MARY JO NYE

The 60-year-old retired English teacher served as "a motherly figure" to students at an alternative high school for at-risk teens, coaching even the most reluctant ones to become better writers.

The Battle Creek, Michigan, resident would work one-on-one with students to get them to open up verbally, then put their thoughts on paper and structure them into written compositions, said Tara Egnatuk, assistant director of the Calhoun Community High School where Nye worked.

"She got even the most reluctant writers in our school to express themselves on paper. She would do baby steps with them where they might come in and not even be able to read. She would have them leaving with skills that were amazing compared to where they started," said Egnatuk, who was mentored by Nye during their six years of working together.

While Nye didn't have children of her own, she played an important role in the lives of students.

"She was an English teacher, but she was a lot more than that to the students who don't come from great home lives," Egnatuk said. "She really had a position of mentorship, kind of a motherly figure for a lot of these kids."

Egnatuk said Nye helped launch the school by working on writing its charter and retired four years ago. The school's website lists its mission as helping "students who have not found success in traditional high schools."

Since retiring, Nye enjoyed quilting, playing Scrabble and volunteering at her church while continuing to tutor students, Egnatuk said. Nye had also worked previously as a literacy specialist for the state of Michigan.

A Michigan State Police news release said that Nye was shot in the driver's seat of a Chevrolet Cruze, while two of her passengers were killed and another was wounded. The driver of a nearby minivan, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda, whom Egnatuk believes was Nye's sister-in-law, was also killed.

"I'm getting calls and emails and messages from former students who are just devastated," Egnatuk said.

Cheryl Chubinski, a school secretary who knew Nye for 20 years, said Nye would bring in a sewing machine, do cooking demonstrations and show students how to make homemade gifts at Christmas.

"It's not like we had tons of resources, but she certainly brought in those things any way she could," she said.

Chubinski said that helping students believe in themselves was a greater reward than monetary compensation for her friend.

"You didn't need a raise. You needed the kids to say, `Thank you Ms. Nye. You helped me make it,"' she said.

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MARY LOU NYE

Mary Lou Nye maintained a positive outlook even when dealing with adversity such as rebuilding a house heavily damaged by a tornado, her neighbor said.

The 63-year-old lived with her husband, Chris, on property that had been in his family for many years, said Carol Dinges, who lives across the street in Baroda. After the tornado about five years ago, the couple had to live in their camper for a while the house was being fixed, but Dinges said her neighbor took it in stride.

"Every time I spoke with her, she was just pleasant," she said.

Nye worked at one time as a manager in a driver's license office, Dinges said.

The couple had two sons, though one had died at a young age from a heart ailment, Dinges said.

Nye enjoyed going on camping trips several times a year with her husband, Dinges said. The neighbors would watch each other's houses on the farmland-lined road during trips.

"They went camping quite often. They would go several times a year," she said.

Nye worked part time in recent years in the preschool and childcare program at Immanuel Lutheran Ministries in Bridgman, just a few miles from Baroda. Pastor Jon Bendewald said she always had a smile on her face and was loved by the children she worked with.

"It was never about her, always about making sure things were right for the children," he said.

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DOROTHY BROWN

Patrick Mallon Jr. didn't know Dorothy Brown all that well, but what he did know, he liked.

After she moved in two doors down in Battle Creek about 10 years ago, the woman everyone knew as Judy would come over with herbs she had grown in her garden and was thrilled when Mallon's granddaughters came over to her home to give her tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers that they'd grown.

Mallon said she would always wave and say hello when she drove off to the mall, where she walked for exercise. Mallon said whenever he and his wife went on vacation, it was Brown they'd ask to keep an eye on the house and feed their cat.

And, he said, after it snowed he would make sure to shovel in front of her home -- something she'd always appreciate.

"She would give us a gift card to a nice restaurant, something like that," he said.

Mallon said Brown, 74, had two grown sons, with one living in California and the other in Florida.

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