An Uber passenger said he called police to report an erratic driver more than an hour before the driver allegedly began a series of three random shootings that killed six people in Michigan.
Matt Mellen told Kalamazoo station WWMT that he hailed a ride around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He said driver Jason Dalton introduced himself as “Me-Me” and had a dog in the backseat.
Mellen sat in front. About a mile into the trip, Dalton got a phone call, and when he hung up, he began driving erratically, blowing through stop signs and sideswiping cars, Mellen said.
“We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along, and when we came to a stop, I jumped out of the car and ran away,” Mellen said. He said he called police and that when he got to his friend’s house, his fiancée posted a warning to friends on social media.
Mellen said he also tried warning the ride-hailing service.
“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,” Mellen said.
Since Dalton’s arrest, several people have come forward to say that he picked them up for Uber in the hours after the first attack. The Associated Press could not immediately confirm those accounts.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said Uber is cooperating with law enforcement officials, and he believes the company will “help us fill in some timeline gaps.”
Investigators are particularly interested in communication between Dalton and Uber, as well as customers he might have driven, the sheriff said.
Questions about motive and Dalton’s frame of mind are “going to be the hardest to answer for anybody,” Fuller said. He expects some answers to emerge in court, but he doubts they will be satisfying.
“In the end, I ask people, because I keep hearing this question of why, ‘What would be the answer that would be an acceptable answer for you?’ They have to think about it for a moment, and they say, ‘Probably nothing.’
“I have to say, ‘You are probably correct.’ I can’t imagine what the answer would be that would let us go, ‘OK, we understand now.’ Because we are not going to understand.”
Dalton, 45, was charged Monday with six counts of murder and two counts of attempted murder. He was expected to be arraigned later in the day.
A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton was a driver for the company, 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.