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A former Uber driver in Michigan who shot and killed six people and wounded two others during a shooting rampage around Kalamazoo was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday.
Jason Dalton, 48, pleaded guilty last month to six counts of murder, two counts of attempted murder and eight counts of felony use of a firearm for the February 2016 murders.
During his sentencing hearing at a Kalamazoo County courthouse, Dalton sat in his chair and kept his hands clasped across his stomach as several people, including one of the survivors, spoke.
"I've tried to hate you. I tried numerous times. I cried a billion tears," said Tiana Carruthers, who was shot four times as she shielded a group of children at a playground.
“You tried to kill us all. You failed. I’m standing right in front of you,” she continued through tears.
Carruthers and 14-year-old Abigail Kopf were the only people shot in the massacre who survived.
After his arrest, Dalton told police that the Uber app turned him into a "puppet" and during the rampage it picked who he would kill. In between his shootings, which went on for a couple of hours, Dalton continued to pick up Uber rides.
Penny Hawthorne, sister-in-law of victim Barbara Hawthorne, called Dalton a "monster."
“You decided to one night play God and just wipe six people off this beautiful Earth all because you wanted to,” she said.
“You thought of no one but yourself. You didn’t think of the six people you murdered, the two people you injured,” Hawthorne said.
Barbara Hawthorne, 68, was gunned down in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel along with victims Mary Jo Nye, 60; Mary Lou Nye, 62; and Dorothy Brown, 74.
Hawthorne was a grandmother figure to the teen, Kopf, who was with the women when she was shot in the head. Doctors initially thought she would be brain-dead until she squeezed her mother's hand in the hospital. She was released from the hospital two months after the shooting.
Rich Smith, 53, and his 17-year-old son, Tyler, were also killed in the shooting while they were looking at cars at a car dealership.
"Everyday I wake up to the idea the two people who I love more than life itself are gone, and I have to wipe my tears alone," said Laurie Smith, who was Rich Smith's wife and Tyler's mother. "I cannot explain how impossible it is not to have your best friend and soulmate not there to comfort you as you deal with the loss of your child."
"I fall to the ground screaming and crying so hard that nothing comes out," she said.
Following the statements, Dalton was given a sentence of life without parole.
"Our prisons are not designed to be for those we are mad at; they are designed for those we should be afraid of, and you fall in that category," Kalamazoo County Circuit Court Judge Alexander Lipsey said.