Lawyer: Suspect was ‘a little down’ before shootings

Jason Dalton Kalamazoo shootings
Jason Dalton is arraigned on Feb. 22, 2016.


KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — A lawyer for the family of a man charged in a deadly Kalamazoo shooting rampage said Jason Dalton was acting depressed a few days before the spree, but they know no motive for the killing of six people and injuring of two others.

“(Dalton’s wife) believed that he appeared to be tired and a little down and not his usual self,” attorney Paul Vlachos told 24 Hour News 8 on Thursday. “That was the only thing that was strange.”

Vlachos said Dalton’s wife, Carole, asked him about the behavioral change and he told her he was tired from working long hours at his new job as an Uber driver. Vlachos said Dalton took the job to save up money for a family trip to Disney World.

“Jason never gave any indication that he would be capable of doing something like this,” Vlachos said.

Vlachos says Dalton was “a good father” and “well-liked.”

Dalton, 45, is in the Kalamazoo County Jail. Police say he admitted to the three shootings that happened over the course of about five hours Saturday, but they haven’t revealed a motive.

“Everybody is searching for answers here and I don’t know if we ever going to have them. If we had them, we would certainly share them,” Vlachos said. “We have searched and searched and we don’t know if we are ever going to know why. Only Jason can answer that and I don’t know if at this point he’s capable (of explaining why).”

That Saturday, family says, Dalton took the dog to the dog park while his wife and kids went to their son’s driver’s education class and then on to do errands.

Dalton was working as an Uber driving during the spree and was apparently picking up fares between shootings. Uber says it received complaints about his driving Saturday.

Vlachos told 24 Hour News 8 that around 6 p.m. — after the first shooting, which injured one woman — Dalton called his wife and asked her to meet him at his parent’s house to switch vehicles because he had been side-swiped. Police later said that was caused by Dalton’s erratic driving.

Dalton then told his family to stay at his parent’s home because “he was having some problems with taxi drivers … and he was going back out and that Uber was going to take care of everything,” Vlachos said.

After taking his parents’ Chevrolet HHR, Dalton allegedly went on to shoot seven more people, killing six of them. The seventh victim, a 14-year-old girl, is still in critical condition.

Dalton’s wife didn’t learn of those killings until police came to Dalton’s parent’s home hours later.

“My observation is Carole and the children are very lucky as well,” Vlachos said.

Dalton’s family told their attorney that Dalton wasn’t dealing with any financial, marital or mental health issues before the shooting rampage. Vlachos says Dalton’s wife, to whom he has been married about 20 years and with whom he has two children, is in disbelief. The family says the man they saw on video during his arraignment is not the Jason Dalton they know.

24 Hour News 8 was not able to contact Jason Dalton’s defense attorney, Eusebio Solis, on Thursday.

**Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that Vlachos told 24 Hour News 8 that family members asked Dalton to stay home after getting some complaints from fares earlier Saturday. That was incorrect. The article has been updated to accurately reflect Vlachos’ statements. We regret the error.

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