OSHTEMO TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The officer who spotted and arrested the suspect in the weekend shooting rampage in the Kalamazoo area says he came across Jason Dalton by coincidence.
Sgt. James Harrison was driving through the downtown Kalamazoo area after responding to a prank call when he noticed something out of the corner of his eye.
“While stopped at a stoplight at Main and Michigan, I just happened to look over to my right,” Harrison told 24 Hour News 8 Wednesday. “I just happened to see a dark-colored, what appeared to be a Chevy HHR with a white male driving it coming through the parking lot.”
The description was a match for the getaway vehicle and gunman who police said shot eight people at random, killing six people.
Harrison said he followed the vehicle as he waited for backup. It was one of a few vehicles officers had pulled over that evening while searching for the suspect.
“Part of my gut said that it might not be involved and part of my instincts also said ‘this could be the guy,’” Harrison said. “We made a… high risk or a felony stop on the car.”
After Dalton pulled over his vehicle, Harrison said the stop was relatively routine. The suspected killer was cooperative.
“[He was] compliant,” Harrison explained. “[He] did whatever he was told.”
“We prepared tactically as if this was the guy and things would go bad, but by the grace of God it didn’t and we were able to, without incident, get this person detained,” Harrison said.
Harrison could not discuss any statements the suspect made. He said officers located a handgun in his right front pocket as they searched him.
“His demeanor was completely passive; [he] didn’t have any real reaction to anything,” Harrison said of the suspect.
Officers investigating the deadly shooting at the Seelye Kia dealership came to the scene and confirmed Harrison had the right man, he said.
Investigators haven’t released any information about where Dalton was headed next but Harrison said he’s glad the suspect was stopped before getting there.
“If this person has already had three separate incidences and killed six people, obviously he’s capable of doing more,” Harrison said.
Of all the arrests he’s made in his 16 years as a law enforcement officer, Harrison said this one stood out.
“There has been none that have been as satisfying to protect the public as what this one was,” he said.
Harrison said he never feared for his life; he was confident in the abilities of his colleagues to keep one another safe.
He also doesn’t classify himself as a hero.
“I feel that my actions were just part of a team effort,” Harrison said. “Any one of the officers could have spotted the same car I’d have been there to back them up.”
Harrison said he hopes the community took notice of the number of officers responding to the tragedies over the weekend.
“It just shows the level of commitment that their law enforcement has for them,” he added.
“I think this community is trying to show as much support as it can…All of us in law enforcement are feeling for them and their families and what they’re going through and for the tragedy and the loss,” Harrison said. “Hopefully they can just find the peace to know that we have found the suspect and we have stopped him before he could hurt anybody else.”
Inside woodtv.com:Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage