*A Kalamazoo, Michigan mother paid attention to her intuition and in the process saved the lives of two children and countless others who happened to be in a park when a man pulled up in a Chevrolet and opened fire over the weekend.
Using her body as a shield to protect 12-year-old Joi Coleman and her sister, Megan, Tiana Carruthers was the first of six victims shot by Jason Dalton, an Uber driver who randomly targeted people and then opened fire.
Fortunately, Carruthers, who was shot multiple times but is alive and doing better after several surgeries, was able to give the authorities a good description of the shooter; who she identified from a police lineup and said he was driving a silver sport-utility vehicle, according to Kalamazoo County sheriff’ Detective Sgt. William Sparrow.
Sparrow said Dalton’s vehicle was involved in a crash after leaving the Meadows Township at the intersection of Gull Road and East G. Avenue, where it sideswiped another vehicle.
Joi, who had reportedly been holding Carruthers’ hand in the parking lot of the Meadows Townhomes when the gunman allegedly began shooting, said that the Uber driver had first asked the woman, “Have you seen Mazie?”
Coleman said Dalton shot Carruthers right after she asked him, “Is there something I can do for you? Can I help you?
“He shot her once and she was still running and then he shot her again and she fell. She was saying ‘Joi, help me. Joi, help me,’” Coleman said, according to WWMT. “I knew I was going to get shot too, he didn’t stop shooting,” she adds.
According to Travis Gettys and Devin Fletter, neighbors of the Coleman’s, Dalton had been hanging around the neighborhood talking to children earlier in the day — about an hour prior to the shooting.
Carruthers is only one of two survivors from the guman’s random shootings. A 14-year-old girl only identified as “A. K.” in court documents, and is still fighting for her life, is the other survivor.
The crazed gunman then drove to a Cracker Barrel and fatally shot 63-year-old Mary Lou Nye, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 74-year-old Dorothy Brown and 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne as they sat inside a car in the parking lot.
He then aimed his weapon and shot Rich Smith and his son, 17-year-old Tyler Smith, in the parking lot of the Seelye Kia car dealership as they were looking at cars. According to reports, Tyler’s girlfriend narrowly escaped being shot as she was sitting in their car when her boyfriend and his father were killed.
“Dalton ultimately told detectives under Miranda that he took people’s lives on 2/20/2016,” Kalamazoo Public Safety Detective Cory Ghiringhelli told District Judge Anne E. Blatchford in Kalamazoo County District court.
Six of the eight people Dalton randomly targeted, died.
Paul Vlachos, the attorney for Dalton’s wife and parents, said the father of two had a mood change in the days leading up to the February 20 shooting spree.
“He’d been acting different in the past couple of days and his wife asked him and he said he was tired…his demeanor…he seemed to be depressed and down, which is not his normal character,” according to what Dalton’s family told Vlachos.
“Jason by all accounts was a good father. Well known in the community. Well liked,” said the attorney who said when the family saw Dalton in court, they were as puzzled as to why he would do such a thing as everyone else.
Dalton, a married father-of-two, carried out the bizarre and brutal five-hour attack at four different locations, using two different cars and picking up fares along the way.
Dalton now faces six counts of murder, two counts of assault with intent to commit murder and eight felony firearms violations.