A driver with the ride-hailing service Uber has been charged with six counts of murder over a shooting spree in the US state of Michigan. Authorities have not yet been able to establish a motive for the killings.
Police in the US state of Michigan on Monday charged Jason Dalton with six counts of murder and two counts of assault with intent to kill. The former Uber driver is suspected of killing victims "at random" across Kalamazoo County during a Saturday night shooting spree.
The murder charges carry a mandatory life sentence. Michigan does not have the death penalty.
The 45-year-old sat silent and expressionless during his arraignment, which he attended via video link. Dalton was then denied bail and given a March 3 date for his next hearing. When asked if he had any words for the community he allegedly terrorized, the suspect said he preferred to "remain silent" and did not enter a plea.
Prosecutors at the hearing claimed Dalton shot multiple times at bystanders over a four-hour period and a swath of Kalamazoo County that included an apartment complex parking lot, a car dealership and a restaurant.
Motive mystifies police
Authorities have not yet been able to establish a motive for the killings, but said they were investigating reports that Dalton had driven Uber customers around on Saturday evening. One man, Matt Mellen, told a local TV station that an erratic Dalton had picked him up an hour before the rampage began.
"We were driving through medians, driving through the lawn, speeding along, and when we came to a stop, I jumped out of the car and ran away," Mellen said, adding that he had tried to warn the ride-sharing app that something was amiss with one of their drivers.
A month after signing several executive orders aimed at strengthening gun control, US President Barack Obama has renewed his call for other leaders to step up and end the senseless violence. Speaking at an annual meeting of US state governors on Monday, Obama pledged all necessary federal assistance to the Michigan investigators.
"Earlier this year, I took some steps that will make it harder for dangerous people like this individual to buy a gun, but clearly we're going to need to do more if we're going to keep innocent Americans safe," Obama said.
"I've got to assume that all of you are just as tired as I am of seeing this stuff happen in your states," he told the governors.
es/cmk (AP, Reuters)