A sole suspect is in custody following a series of seemingly random shootings in Michigan. Before his apprehension, the gunman was allegedly responsible for a Saturday night filled with terror and chaos spanning 12 miles and causing several deaths.
Now the Kalamazoo, Mich. community finds itself waking up Sunday morning to heartbreak and a series of unanswered questions.
According to the Associated Press, the Michigan shootings began at around 6 p.m. on Saturday. A woman was walking in the parking lot of an apartment complex in Richland Township when she was shot multiple times. The two children with her at the time of the incident were unharmed. ABC News reports that she is listed in critical condition.
Four hours later, a father and son were fatally shot while looking at cars at the Seelye Kia car dealership of Kalamazoo. The New York Daily News writes the gunman later opened fire on people sitting in their vehicles in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant. Reports indicate that four individuals were hit, including a 14-year-old girl who later died.
As of now, seven people are dead and three others suffered serious injuries. None of the victims have been identified at this time.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Undersheriff Paul Matyas called the series of shootings law enforcement’s “worst nightmare” to have someone driving around targeting victims at random. Authorities went on an hours-long manhunt, combing the area for any information that could get the Michigan shooter off the streets.
Finally, at around 12:40 a.m., police approached what’s been described as a dark blue Chevy HHR, the vehicle identified as belonging to the shooter. Inside was 45-year-old Jason Dalton, a native of Kalamazoo, who police have identified as “strong suspect.” Dalton surrendered peacefully to Michigan authorities and remains in police custody.
Police searched Dalton’s home shortly after his apprehension, but have yet to reveal if they found any pertinent information or weapons related to the shootings. Police did tell reports a lone firearm was removed from the suspect’s vehicle.
Matyas declared that “the threat to public safety is over.”
Jason Dalton has yet to be charged in connection with the Michigan shootings, and police revealed that he lacked a criminal history prior to the shootings. The random nature of this crime combined with a previous lack of criminal behavior has both the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department and Kalamazoo community asking, “Why?”
Chief Jeff Hadley of the Kalamazoo County Department of Public Safety admitted the case had law enforcement officials “baffled.”
“We have no idea why this happened. It is extremely baffling. [This crime was] completely random, unpredictable and unprovoked,” said Hadley.
Without a motive to go on, the why of this horrible crime is considered “the million dollar question.”
Kalamazoo is located about 160 miles west of Detroit and has a population of about 75,000. It’s a location that was known as the home of Western Michigan University and the popular Bell’s Brewery. However, this random cloud of violence that has settled over the city may come to make it associated with one of the most senseless acts of violence in recent history.
The only possible bit of good news to emerge from this tragedy is that at least police were able to take the alleged shooter alive. It’s possible a motive — however inadequate a justification for the Michigan shootings — will be offered, rather than leaving a community without any possible answers as to why this horrible crime occurred.
Although officials consider the nightmare over with, the alleged shooter in custody, the unanswered questions and the reality of random violence will likely not erase the fear and pain for many years.
[Photo by Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office]