Accused gunman Jason Dalton has been ordered to stand trial for his February 20 killing spree in Kalamazoo that left six people dead and two others wounded. The ruling came Friday afternoon after a day of testimony from more than a dozen witnesses, including Tiana Carruthers, the first of eight victims shot by Dalton. The hearing determined that there is enough evidence to send him to trial on 16 felony charges, including six counts of murder, ABCNews.com reports.
Jason was driving for Uber when he launched a deadly rampage between fares. During Carruthers’ testimony, he began speaking over her and disrupting the hearing with bizarre behavior and ramblings until he was hauled out of the courtroom. The preliminary hearing was adjourned for nearly two hours.
— CNN (@CNN) May 20, 2016
Dalton attempted to stand during the hearing and Prosecutor Jeff Getting moved to stand between him and Tiana, who was screaming and crying uncontrollably in the witness chair. Watch footage from the courtroom drama via the clip below.
“I just wanted to make sure she was safe and that she felt safe,” Getting said after the hearing. “I knew how afraid she was already of the situation and I wanted to make sure she was protected. I knew the deputies would do everything they could.”
Getting dismissed the suggestion that Jason’s outburst was a defense strategy by his attorney, who declined to comment after the hearing. Last month, Dalton was found competent to stand trial for randomly shooting eight people in three locations in the Kalamazoo area, and Carruthers told the judge even now, “I look like a bionic woman. My body doesn’t look real. Every single day I hurt.”
Tiana explained how on the night of the shooting, she was walking several kids to a park when she saw Dalton drive into the parking lot and he gave her a “weird feeling.” Dalton drove away but turned around toward her and that’s when she saw his hand reaching through the window holding a gun.
“I told the kids to run and I began to run. I didn’t make it anywhere,” she said. “I remember him shooting and shooting. I couldn’t move.” She was shot four times, and luckily none of the kids were injured. Tiana said she had to play dead for the shooting to stop. “I can never forget his face – ever.”
Seventeen-year-old shooting victim Alexis Cornish told the judge she was car shopping with her boyfriend and his father when Dalton approached them on the lot and began shooting. She remained in the car because it was cold and ducked in the back seat as both her boyfriend and his father were gunned down. Jason told police that he said, “hello” to the men before they were shot.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Dalton next ended up outside a Cracker Barrel restaurant where he shot a woman after she declined his request for a dollar, according to a state police report. Dalton told detectives that he had asked the woman “if she could spare a dollar to make America great again.” Jason said he was going to leave after shooting her, but when he heard other people screaming, he turned his gun on them.
According to police documents, Dalton believed he was being mind-controlled by the ride sharing service Uber. He explained that when you “plug into” the app, “you can actually feel the presence on you.” He said on the night of the shooting, the Uber app that is normally red “had changed to black.” Jason said he snapped back into reality when police arrested him early the next morning. He was not allowed back the courtroom when testimony resumed Friday afternoon. Dalton watched the proceedings via video conference from the Kalamazoo County Jail while guarded and restrained.
Jason has been ordered to stand trial for his heinous crimes, and his next appearance will be in the Kalamazoo County Circuit Court within the next month. Getting said Dalton’s “actions will determine whether or not he remains in the courtroom.”
[Photo by Mark Bugnaski/AP Images]