The man who was charged with shooting eight people, killing six, while on duty as an Uber driver in 2016 pleaded guilty to murder in a Michigan court this morning. The 47-year-old shooter, Jason Brian Dalton, reportedly told police he saw a “devil figure” in the Uber app that forced him to commit the killings. He faces life in prison.
The plea came as a surprise to the court because jury selection for Dalton’s trial was about to get underway this week. Dalton was deemed competent to stand trial and he recently dropped an insanity plea, according to the Associated Press. Dalton’s guilty plea wasn’t part of any deal negotiated with prosecutors and his attorney reportedly advised him against it.
Dalton, who had an Uber score of 4.73 out of 5 before the killing spree, picked up passengers in between shootings at three locations near Kalamazoo, Michigan in February of 2016, including a Kia dealership and a Cracker Barrel. Riders would later describe those rides as terrifying and explained that Dalton was weaving in and out of oncoming traffic while going 80 miles per hour.
The spate of killings made instant headlines on social media, and one of the last passengers that Dalton picked up before he was arrested even reportedly joked with the driver, “You’re not the shooter, are you?” Dalton allegedly said no.
According to Uber, Dalton passed a background check and the company passed along its condolences after the mass shooting. Dalton was an insurance adjuster when he wasn’t working as an Uber driver.
News stories in March of 2016 claimed that Dalton tried to sue Uber for $10 million, but these stories were false. It’s believed that the hoax letter was sent from Philadelphia.