COOPER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A longtime, close friend of the Kalamazoo shooting spree suspect said Jason Dalton is a staunch Second Amendment supporter who feared that recent mass shootings could lead to gun control.
“He was a gun enthusiast. He’s always been pro-Second Amendment,” Dalton’s friend, who asked not to be identified, told 24 Hour News 8 on Wednesday, providing some of the best insight so far into the suspected killer.
He had owned guns for years for protection, the friend said, and also liked gun shows and shooting at the range.
“I never thought he would be any sort of crazy gun person. This is so out of character for him,” the friend said.
He said he has been friends with Dalton for 14 years and last spoke to him Friday, the day before the shooting rampage, on the phone. The friend said Dalton had not showed any signs he was about to snap, but now wonders if he had become paranoid.
“There was nothing out of the ordinary that would trigger me to say, ‘Is there something wrong with Jason?’ He sounded very normal,” he said.
But he watched video of Dalton in court following the shootings and said something is off.
“When I look at his eyes on the television screen, there’s something that doesn’t look right. And I don’t know if something snapped, if something broke in his head. I don’t know,” he continued.
Federal agents say they took 11 long guns and four handguns from Dalton’s home Sunday. At the time of Dalton’s arrest, authorities found another handgun believed to have been used in at least part of the shooting spree. Dalton had no criminal history that would have prevented him from legally owning guns.
His friend said Dalton was worried about protecting his home and his family after recent thefts from his property. That was part of the reason for the guns and why he installed security cameras outside his home.
“He bought himself a brand new German Shepherd last summer and he’d been training that to help protect the property,” the friend added.
He described Dalton as a conservative and said they recently talked about gun control.
“We had actually talked about mass shooters. I remember the conversation I had with him about the person at San Bernardino and he was really worried that the government is going to crack down and take guns away. He was really worried about mass shooters,” he said.
Dalton now faces 16 criminal charges, including six murder charges and two attempted murder charges, for allegedly opening fire at three locations in the Kalamazoo area over the course of about five hours on Saturday. Killed were 17-year-old Tyler Smith, 53-year-old Rich Smith, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown. Tiana Carruthers, 25, and 14-year-old Abigail Kopf were wounded.
Dalton’s friend said he was struck by the irony that Dalton, whose fear that mass shootings could lead to gun control, has now become part of that national conversation.
“That’s what makes no sense to me. I can’t wrap my head around why this happened,” he said.