“The Deadly Ride”: ’20/20′ Reports on Jason Dalton Kalamazoo Uber Shootings December 22 2023

On Friday, December 22 2023, ABC’s “20/20” will present a comprehensive two-hour episode titled “The Deadly Ride,” focusing on the harrowing events that unfolded in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on February 20, 2016. This episode offers an in-depth exploration of the tragic day when Jason Dalton, a former Uber driver, went on a devastating shooting spree. Over eight hours, Dalton terrorized the city, resulting in the deaths of six people and serious injuries to two others.

The program promises to delve deep into Dalton’s perplexing actions and his subsequent puzzling explanation to the police. This special coverage includes interviews with the surviving victims, relatives of those who perished, law enforcement officers, and others who encountered Dalton on that fateful day. ABC News chief national correspondent Matt Gutman conducts emotionally charged interviews with Dalton’s two surviving victims: Abbie Kopf, who miraculously survived a headshot at the age of 14 and whose heart astonishingly started beating again after stopping, and Tiana Carruthers, a young mother who bravely shielded children from gunfire in her condominium complex.

Viewers can expect to see police dashboard camera footage, surveillance videos, and 911 calls from witnesses, providing a real-time perspective of the chaos and horror. The episode also features interviews with various key figures involved in the case. These include Vicki and Gene Kopf, Abbie’s parents, who recount the emotional rollercoaster of nearly losing their daughter; Lt. Chuck Christensen of the Michigan State Police; Sgt. Kyle Gorham; Detectives Bill Moorian and Cory Ghiringhelli, who interrogated Dalton post-arrest; and Michigan State trooper Cody Donnay, among others.

Additionally, the program will include insights from Matt Mellen, a passenger who narrowly escaped a terrifying car ride with Dalton on the day of the shootings, and Jeff Getting and Jeff Williams, the prosecutors on the case. Relatives of the victims, such as Emily and Laurie Smith, Nate, Laura, and Dave Hawthorne, Chris Nye, and Rob Reynolds, will also share their experiences and memories, adding personal depth to the tragedy. Juliet Dragos, a WZZM13 news anchor who covered the story, will provide a media perspective on the events.

Jason Dalton Background

Dalton’s life before the rampage painted a picture of normalcy. Raised in Greenfield, Indiana, he was a husband and father, described by some as a “good family man.” Dalton had various jobs, including as a mechanic and insurance adjuster. He had been working as an Uber driver for just two weeks before the shootings.

The Day of Terror

Dalton’s day started routinely. However, his behavior rapidly descended into chaos. Hours before the first shooting, he visited multiple gun stores, purchasing a jacket designed to conceal a handgun.

Around 4:21 p.m., Dalton picked up Matt Mellen for an Uber ride. Post a phone call, Dalton began driving erratically, prompting Mellen to escape and alert 911. Dalton returned home, switched cars, and continued picking up fares, unphased by his actions.

Dalton’s rampage began at 5:42 p.m. when he shot Tiana Carruthers several times in Richland, as she shielded her daughter and other children. Carruthers, despite her injuries, had the resolve to live. Dalton, after this initial attack, continued his sinister mission. Later that night, at a Kia dealership, Richard Smith Jr., 53, and his son Tyler Smith, 17, fell victim to his gunfire. The tragedy escalated at a Cracker Barrel in Oshtemo, where Dalton killed four more: Judy Brown, Mary Lou Nye, Mary Jo Nye, and Barbara Hawthorne. Amongst the chaos, 14-year-old Abigail Kopf was critically injured but miraculously survived a headshot.

Upon his arrest, Dalton offered a bizarre explanation, claiming the Uber app controlled his actions, demanding killings at random. He described seeing a “devil head” in the app, which purportedly took over his mind and body.

Dalton’s Arrest and Legal Proceedings

Dalton’s bizarre explanation for the shootings, involving the Uber app, raised many questions about his mental state. Moreover, the incident sparked a lawsuit against Uber by Matt Mellen, who had a harrowing experience with Dalton just hours before the shootings. Mellen’s lawsuit alleged that Uber’s lack of a responsive safety system contributed to the events that unfolded.

Dalton was arraigned on multiple charges, including murder and assault. Despite initially pursuing an insanity defense, he eventually pleaded guilty to all charges in 2019, receiving a life sentence without parole.

The Aftermath and Community Response

The shootings left an indelible mark on the Kalamazoo community. Survivors and victims’ families faced a long, arduous journey of recovery and grief. The community rallied with the message “Kalamazoo Strong,” a testament to their resilience and unity in the face of such tragedy.

The Role of Uber

The incident sparked debates about the safety and vetting processes in ride-sharing services. Matt Mellen filed a lawsuit against Uber and Dalton, highlighting the need for more robust safety measures in the gig economy.

20/20: The Deadly Ride

“The Deadly Ride” on “20/20” aims to offer a comprehensive and heart-wrenching account of one of the most tragic events in recent American history, emphasizing the impact on the victims, their families, and the community at large. The episode airs from 9:01 to 11:00 p.m. EST on ABC.

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Ryan Gill

Ryan is a passionate follower of true crime television programs, reporting on and providing in-depth investigations on mysteries in the criminal world.

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