"Worthless evil": Victims denounce Uber driver gunman at sentencing for 2016 massacre

/ CBS/AP

Uber driver gunman sentenced to life

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A southwestern Michigan man who fatally shot six strangers in between picking up passengers for Uber was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with no chance of parole. Jason Dalton, 48, received the mandatory sentence in Kalamazoo County court. He pleaded guilty to murder and attempted murder last month, just as jury selection was about to begin.

Survivors and family members of the slain victims gave emotional statements at the sentencing hearing, denouncing Dalton as "nothing but darkness" and a "pile of worthless evil."

Dalton admitted shooting eight people in three locations in the Kalamazoo area in February 2016. After his arrest, police quoted Dalton as saying a "devil figure" on Uber's app was controlling him on the day of the shootings.

The following post contains the names and images of the deceased and survivors of the shooting tragedy on Feb. 20, 2016,…

Posted by Newschannel 3, CBS News, WWMT, West Michigan on Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Four women were killed in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant: Barbara Hawthorne, Dorothy "Judy" Brown, Mary Lou Nye and her sister-in-law, Mary Jo Nye. Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler Smith, were fatally shot while looking at a pickup truck in a dealer's lot.

Abigail Kopf, who was 14 at the time, was shot in the head during the restaurant shooting and survived. Tiana Carruthers was shot and wounded in a residential area while shielding her daughter and other children from a barrage of bullets, reports CBS affiliate WWMT.

Carruthers directed her statement at her would-be killer, the station reported.

"You tried to kill us all. You failed. I'm standing right in front of you," Carruthers reportedly said.

WWMT reports she asked Dalton repeatedly, "Just look at me." He wouldn't.

Jason Dalton speaks with his attorney at the Kalamazoo County Courthouse on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019. Joel Bissell/Kalamazoo Gazette via AP

Nate Reynolds, the son of victim Judy Brown, said it was "gut-wrenching" that he had to empty his mother's home and that she now lives only in his "heart, pictures and memories," according to WWMT. He told Dalton: "You are nothing but a pile of worthless evil."

Laurie Smith, whose husband Rich Smith and son Tyler Smith were both killed in the massacre, told Dalton she felt "my heart and soul have been completely ripped out."

"You somehow decided that I didn't need my husband anymore… or my son," Smith reportedly said. "Who are you to decide that we had shared enough?"

Emily Lemmer, the daughter of Rich Smith and sister of Tyler Smith, cried as she said she didn't understand "how or why" Dalton could "do this to all these innocent people."

"Were you mad? What were you thinking as you repeatedly shot and killed my family? What made you decide that I didn't need a brother or a dad? Why didn't you just walk away?"

Dalton was deemed competent to stand trial and had dropped an insanity defense just before his trial was scheduled to start. He hasn't explained in court why he randomly shot eight people.

The father of two had worked as an insurance adjuster and had no criminal record before the shootings.

Prosecutor Jeff Getting has said the motive behind the shootings is a question that "haunts us."

A gun shop owner said Dalton bought a jacket with an inside pocket designed to hold a gun just hours before the rampage. Shop owner Jon Southwick recalled Dalton "laughing and joking," and giving a "one-armed hug" to the manager before making the purchase.

At the hearing, Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting told Dalton, "I hope every morning you wake up see the faces of those you killed and injured."

"We will celebrate that you will never ever be with us again," Getting reportedly said.

First published on February 5, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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