KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – The preliminary hearing for Kalamazoo shooting suspect Jason Dalton has been delayed after he was dragged out of the courtroom.
Dalton appeared to make a sudden movement during testimony by shooting survivor Tiana Carruthers, causing her to scream. Moments before that, Dalton interrupted Carruthers, rambling about black plastic bags. Carruthers began sobbing on the witness stand at the sound of Dalton’s voice.
Dalton was led into the courtroom around 9:45 a.m. Friday with chains wrapped around his midsection and handcuffs around his wrists. He appeared to be shaking his head and talking to himself as he was seated for the hearing.
Friends and families of the victims were in the courtroom Friday. Loved ones of Rich and Tyler Smith wore “Smith strong” shirts as they filed into the room. The emotions were written all over their faces. Many wiped away tears during the proceeding. Carruthers was the first to testify. With the help of a cane, she walked into the courtroom.
Carruthers told the judge she was with her child and four other children walking to the park outside her apartment when a man in a silver SUV cut them off, almost hitting them. The 25-year-old mother said the encounter seemed unusual from the start.
“I seen him coming and um, I um saw a gun,” Carruthers said in a shaky voice she before Dalton interrupted her.
“They had to get their cars. No! They gave bags. These old people. They have these old black bags. They’re called (inaudible). They’re black bags that people drive around and look at. It gets real bad when people look and that’s when they tell people it’s time to get to temple,” Dalton said.
“Mr. Dalton you need to listen to your attorney,” the judge ordered.
“Yeah you need to get to temple because you need to get going. Because it’s called a (inaudible) bag,” Dalton continued.
“You need to be quiet in today’s proceedings, OK?” Advised the judge.
“Yeah,” Dalton said.
“If you have anything to say you whisper to your attorney. That’s today’s rules, OK?” Added the judge.
Dalton nodded his head. Moments later, he was dragged out of court after making a quick movement off camera.
The judge ordered a recess as court officers took Dalton back to jail, where he is expected to watch the rest of the hearing from a video feed. The proceedings are expected to pick back up at noon on Friday.
Dalton faces 16 criminal counts in connection to the Feb. 20 shooting that killed Mary Jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye, Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne and father and son Rich and Tyler Smith.
After he was arrested, Dalton allegedly told detectives that he felt the Uber app on his phone had robbed him of sleep, manifested a “devil” that took over his body, andsounded to indicate who he should kill or not kill.
In April, Dalton was found competent to stand trial. Although the judge ruled Dalton fit to stand trial, defense lawyers can still enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea for Dalton.