Kalamazoo resident Tiana Carruthers took the stand on Friday in an attempt to testify that was no less than valiant after all that she had been through.
The alleged Kalamazoo shooter, Jason Dalton, sat just a few feet from her and kept interrupting her testimony, despite several admonitions from Judge Christopher Haenicke.
The first victim in a five-hour shooting spree on February 20, Tiana Carruthers had put herself between a group of kids and alleged gunman Jason Dalton on a Saturday night in Michigan as he fired bullets into her arms and legs.
New York Daily News reported that Carruthers, 25, was outside at the Meadows Townhomes with several children, including her own, when Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver, drove up right before 6 p.m.
Kalamazoo County Sheriff Richard Fuller said that Carruthers had “sensed trouble” when the shooter pulled up, and she sent the kids inside before turning to ask Dalton if there was anything she could help him with.
— WZZM 13 On Your Side (@wzzm13) May 20, 2016
After wounding Carruthers, the shooter allegedly went on to murder Richard Smith and his son Tyler, 17, as the pair were looking at cars in a Kalamazoo lot around 10 p.m.
Following his shooting of the Smith family members, the alleged killer drove to a nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant, where he murdered Mary Lou Nye, 60, Mary Joe Nye, 62, Barbara Hawthorne, 68, and Dorothy Brown, 74.
— FOX 17 (@FOX17) May 4, 2016
Fourteen-year-old Abigail Kopf, who was also at the Cracker Barrel, was shot in the head. In a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous, Abigail has survived the shooting. Following months of wearing a protective helmet, she underwent surgery last Friday to have a 3D-printed plate inserted to repair the missing portion of her skull.
According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, Abigail’s family said that she is recovering well but has some swelling on her face and around her eyes, due to the nature of the surgery.
Abigail’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with her medical bills.
Dalton, who had been driving around actually picking up fares during the night of his attacks, was arrested early morning on February 21, and now faces charges of first degree murder.
During the Friday testimony of his first victim, Carruthers, Wood TV reported that the killer made several outbursts.
Friends and families of the victims were present. Rich and Tyler Smith’s supporters wore “Smith strong” shirts. Emotions were very obvious, with many members wiping away tears during the proceedings.
— Michigan Club (@MichiganClub) February 25, 2016
Carruthers, who moved to the stand with the help of a cane, said that she had been on her way to the parking lot with a group of five children, hers and four others, when Dalton drove up in a silver SUV, almost hitting them.
“I seen him coming and um, I um saw a gun.”
As Carruthers told the story in a shaky voice, Dalton interrupted her, talking about black bags.
The defendant was warned to listen to his attorney and be quiet.
But the alleged murderer made a sudden movement, causing Carruthers to scream, and then she broke down sobbing at the sound of his voice.
— WOOD TV8 (@WOODTV) May 20, 2016
At the judge’s order, the alleged killer was removed from the courtroom. As the bailiffs escorted him out in shackles, his legs gave out and he forced them to drag him through the door. The court officials appeared unsympathetic to his apparent helplessness.
The alleged killer was found mentally fit to stand trial, although he is pleading insanity.
It appeared that the accused shooter looked at the camera, though, as he was taken out.
The judge called a recess, and the trial will resume at noon.
The family of Tiana Carruthers said that she has a “long recovery ahead of her” and have set up a GoFundMe page to help with her medical bills.
Viewers can watch the trial livestream at WOODTV.com.
[Photo by Mark Bugnaski/Kalamazoo Gazette-MLive Media Group/AP, Pool]