“Authorities said they are investigating whether Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton may have given a harrowing ride to a passenger shortly before embarking on a shooting spree in Kalamazoo, Mich., that killed six — and that they are looking into whether Dalton may have continued picking up fares in the middle of his rampage,” washingtonpost.com reports. For once, the media focus isn’t on the background check Dalton may or may not have passed to purchase a firearm. This time, for now, it’s all about Uber’s background checks . . .

Police say Dalton didn’t have a criminal history.

An Uber spokesman confirmed Dalton had been working with the company and said he had passed a background check required for drivers employed by the company. The person declined to say how long Dalton had been driving for Uber.

The incident came just weeks after Uber settled two class-action lawsuits for $28.5 million after the company was accused of exaggerating the safety of its background checks. Despite using phrases such as “safest ride on the road” and “industry-leading background checks,” the suits claimed, the company did not check drivers against the national sex-offender registry or employ fingerprint identification.

“We learned of systemic failures in Uber’s background checks,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in reference to the lawsuits, according to Forbes. “We have learned they have drivers who are convicted sex offenders, thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a convicted murder.”

A convicted murderer? How’d that happen? Like this . . .

“The background check process that Uber and Lyft are doing follows California law,” Gascon said, according to Forbes. “The problem we have is the misleading information that is being provided by Uber.”

The company claims that seven years “strikes the right balance” between protecting the public and offering “ex-offenders the chance to work and rehabilitate themselves.”

Wait. What? Uber is claiming passenger safety and criminal rehabilitation? Not that background checks are a foolproof way to “catch” potential bad actors – whether they’re drivers, gun owners or child care workers. But if you’re going to do it, why not do it right? Squeaky clean since birth works for me, especially as one of my daughters could be an Uber passenger.

Perhaps people should have some sort of way of countering violence as it occurs, just in case these background checks fail and an Uber drivers gets all rapey or homicidal. Hmmm. Anyway, at least Uber bans drivers from carrying a firearm in their vehicle. A policy that puts drivers at risk and does nothing to prevent crazed killer Uber drivers from doing what crazed killers do.

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52 Responses to Michigan Spree Killer Brian Dalton Passed Uber Background Checks

    • Cab companies cannot even protect cab drivers. Nationally three cabbies per week are killed on the job. I didn’t see the stats for wounded or otherwise attacked & injured.

      And irrelevant to the specific discussion, but I read recently that “official” cab companies in Las Vegas are being investigated for potentially over-charging riders 47 million dollars last year alone.

      Uber incidents are like plain and train crashes – they are rare enough that when they happen they are big news. Most of the riders I picked up when I was with Uber were frequent passengers and were extremely happy with the service provided and the drivers they encountered.

  1. If people don’t learn from this that there is simply no way background checks can be infallible, and instead call for stricter background checks, they’re just refusing to learn.

    “Gee, he checked ‘no’ on the ‘Are you planning to engage in a killing spree?’ question!”

  2. “How is it that the company can claim passenger safety and criminal rehabilitation?”

    I don’t see a conflict there. If the criminals really are rehabilitated, there’s no safety concern. So both claims would be compatible.

    The problem Uber and other sketchy “middleman” services have is that background checks aren’t predictive. If someone is a creep who hasn’t been caught yet, a background check won’t help at all. It’s a coarse filter, that lets you filter out (most of) the people who have already committed crimes (and thus may be more likely to do so again), but there are always going to be some who slip by.

    I’m kind of glad now that Uber has its ridiculous “no guns” policy. Otherwise, the entire media narrative on this would be “Why doesn’t Uber ban guns?”, as if that would have somehow stopped this nutcase.

  3. “We have learned they have drivers who are convicted sex offenders, thieves, burglars, kidnappers and a convicted murder.”

    Exactly what jobs should convicted murderers (or sex offender or thieves, etc.) be allowed to work? Is making a convict, who has supposedly “served his time” into an unemployable social pariah more or less likely to encourage him to return to crime?

    • I have had that discussion many times. People are too afraid to hire them, and it’s challenging for them to even find somewhere to live. They’re readily discriminated against, it’s like we don’t want them to re-integrate, ever. How does that help us? Especially victimless crimes like drugs (nobody is forced to take drugs, and even the tiny percentage of addicts all made a choice at some point.)

      The system is very, very broken.

      • The system works well. One reaps the harvest they sow. You don’t become a career criminal overnight. One calculates risk reward and with the revolving door of our judicial, criminals establish a pattern of behavior unworthy of redemption.

        • Mk10108,

          For hardcore or repeat offenders I agree. For one-time offenders who did not commit a heinous crime, I do not agree.

          Don’t get me wrong. I am not advocating that some scumbag should be able to viciously rape a woman, spend three years in prison, have zero remorse and make zero effort for restitution, and re-enter society with no impediments. If it is clear cut that a person was reprehensible and caused severe physical, emotional, and/or financial injuries to a victim, has no remorse, and no interest in restitution, then I have no empathy for that offender.

          I am concerned about offenders who were innocent and wrongly convicted. I am concerned about first-time offenders who inflicted minimal physical, emotional, and/or financial injuries who are remorseful and want to affect restitution … especially if there were “extenuating circumstances” involved. I think those people should get a second chance and be able to re-enter society without impediments.

        • Mk10108, The list of felony offenses is long, and grows longer every day. There are a host of non-violent first offenders, convicted often because they couldn’t afford a decent attorney.

          I’m not talking about serial killers, rapists, serial abusers. They usually stay in jail, or are so much older by the time they get out, they have changed just by virtue of aging.

          There are irredeemable POS in the world, and I’m not suggesting otherwise. But the rest can be steered into being decent and productive – if we allow them to be.

        • Mk1018, by your logic Shaneen Allen should’ve been stigmatized for the rest of her life had she been tried/convicted. Our system is based on innocent until proven guilty and serving time towards rehabilitation. Yes, there are unredeemable folks out there. However, that should not damn those who are trying to come back as a productive and lawful member of society.

      • Having sex with your 16-year-old girlfriend when you’re 18 can get you labeled a “sex offender” in some jurisdictions.
        Violating a custody agreement can get you convicted of “kidnapping” your own kid.
        Making a bad call (or what the jury decided was a bad call) in what you believed to be a self-defense shooting can get you labeled a “murderer.”

        Becoming unhirable in addition to time served is doing neither society nor the convict any favors.

    • Cloudbuster,

      On a pragmatic level, if ex-convicts cannot find gainful employment and provide for themselves after their release from prison, their only options are:
      (1) Take from us again (via welfare of similar).
      (2) Take from us again (via robbery, theft).
      (3) Die.

      I would rather have ex-convicts provide for themselves than take from us again.

      Furthermore on the pragmatic level, there is compelling evidence that anyone (convict or otherwise) who has no prospects and nothing to lose in this life are much MORE likely to commit crimes … and the corollary is also true that anyone who has a lot of prospects and a lot to lose in this life is much LESS likely to commit crimes. There is also compelling evidence that someone who has gainful employment has an element of pride in themselves and being a part of society — both of which mean that person is much LESS likely to commit crimes.

      Of course no one wants to reward bad behavior. I view ex-convicts working to provide for themselves as part of life rather than a reward for their past behavior. And I have not even touched on the aspect that innocent people are sometimes convicted and young people sometimes make stupid mistakes (like stealing a car at the age of 18) that should not haunt them for the rest of their lives.

  4. Am I the only one who had not heard what kind of gun was used? Not that it matters but if nutter butter deluxe had used a hand gun, or god forbid an “assult riffle” wouldn’t that have been the headline? Kind of makes me think it was a shotgun and I don’t know of any serious plans to outlaw/restrict their ownership other than an out right gun ban. Maybe I am not watching/reading the correct news sights but the focus seems to be more on Uber and less on the evil gun that probably did it on it’s own, or made him do it. (That last part was sarcasm, by the way)

    • I am virtually certain that he used a handgun.

      First of all I believe at least one source said that directly. Also, he shot something like 30 rounds of ammunition in total which strongly suggests a semi-automatic firearm. (That would be hard to do with a shotgun or bolt-action rifle.) And being that he was driving around providing rides to people between attacks, I doubt that he bothered to hide a rifle in his trunk after each attack … and certainly would not have risked keeping a rifle obviously visible in the front or rear seats.

      Handgun it probably is. The only question is which caliber. Given how deadly his attacks were (killed 6 out of 8 victims I believe), I have to wonder if he used a .45 ACP.

      • Yes right after I posted this I did see it was a hand gun. I guess better to be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  5. This goes to the root of my suggestion to open the NICS system to employers.

    Two results:

    1. The NICS check system gets more funding and more scrutiny, because employment rests on the NICS system’s results.

    2. Liberals will go positively ape when they’re subjected to the background checks they want to force down on only gun owners.

    • Companies already hate the voluntary E-Verify system that only checks immigration status. A NCIS background check, which includes immigration status, would be an interesting wedge issue. All the nanny state politicians would be torn between “for the children” vs. sweet, sweet illegal immigrant labor.

      • Exactly.

        This is why I keep telling GOP politicians that there is more than one way to “compromise.”

        For example: Want background checks on private gun sales? “What a great idea! We think it is such a great idea, that employers should be able to use the same database to help prevent workplace violence!”

        Watch the DNC back-pedal.

        Or:

        Want CCW licensing standards to effectively remove “Constitutional Carry?” “What a great idea! We think that all states should have the same standards for concealed weapons license issuance, including the District of Columbia.”

        Watch the DNC back-pedal.

        I could go on all day long.

        The reason why the GOP is called “the stupid party” is because they never think of compromise as anything other than giving the DNC half of what they want.

  6. News reporter talked to last fare before driver went on rampage, He told the reporter that driver took a phone call, after the phone call, passenger reported driver started driving erratically blowing though a stop sign, sideswiping another car. Passenger insisted he stop and let him out. Regardless of what might have set him off, takes a psychopath to shoot random people

    • It sure sounds like a psychotic break, doesn’t it?

      On the other hand, putting on my tinfoil hat, I can picture that someone “programmed” this scumbag to do this years ago and his last paying customer was present when his “programmer” called and uttered the trigger word on the phone.

      Excuse me while I curl up into the fetal position under my desk and begin incessant rocking.

      • I think it’s obvious that what happened is that Dalton must be a college student, and the phone call informed him that he got a D on his midterm exam. He snapped and started shooting people, just like all the anti-campus-carry people said would happen.

        • “It smells like a Polish whorehouse in here. This comforts me. ” – Strelski

          (Yes, there was a book based on the movie. Different than the book the movie was based on. I still remember that line 40 years on.)

  7. Obviously we don’t know what caused this ‘average joe’ to snap. Reminds me of the movie “Falling Down.” In the end background checks are only (subjectively) useful for identifying past behavior and attempting use that as a predictor of future behavior.

    There’s no way to predict bad behavior from someone who’s never exhibited bad behavior.

    • “See, this is what I’m talkin’ about. Turn around. Look at that. Do you see what I mean. It’s, it’s plump, it’s juicy, it’s three inches thick. Now, look at this sorry, miserable, squashed thing. Can anybody tell me what’s wrong with this picture? Anybody? Anybody at all…”

  8. Hey Mr. F,

    Haven’t you advocated for the right of everyone to be able to own a firearm? But then you go and make a statement like, “squeaky clean from birth…” Isn’t that a bit hypocritical? If we trust you back in the real world (not jail/prison) you should be trusted with a firearm, but not gainful enployment?

  9. You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? You talkin’ to me? Then who the hell else are you talking… you talking to me? Well I’m the only one here. Who the fu*k do you think you’re talking to? Oh yeah? OK.

  10. Uber’s background check didn’t work. Uber’s prohibition of guns didn’t work. Assuming he got his gun legally, Michigan gun laws, whatever they may be, didn’t work. If he had a “smart gun”, that wouldn’t have stopped him either. When it comes down to it, bad people will do bad things.

    • MI handgun laws are background check from an FFL, or permit to purchase (issued by your local law enforcement agency) for private party. Loaded magazines are not permitted in vehicles except with concealed pistol license, and even then it is for pistols only.
      We also have a registration system for handguns. Which just happens to be extremely broken (transfers aren’t recorded, records are unavailable, etc.)

  11. Now on a sadder note, this shows just how thin Police coverage really is. People like to imagine that if something like this happens the Police will rappel in from a chopper 30 secs after the first shot. Not so. YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN. The ambulance sometimes – has a faster response time and normally has to wait for the cops to secure the scene before they can go in. I’ve always said if the “bad guys” ever figure out how thin the blue line really is we are all going to be in trouble. Hence 24/7 CC/OC.

      • And it took them hours to piece together the fact that this was one person rather then several shootings. As someone who lived in Kalamazoo for two years, several shootings in one night is not an unheard of event. The locations were a little odd, they are not typically high crime areas, which is probably part of what helped them figure out something different was going on.

  12. Uber’s background checks are a red herring. If anything, this guy was a great employee because even during his psychotic break he still picked up fares and did his job professionally with no one the wiser. None of his passengers were harmed. Allegedly there one one rough ride, but it was not enough to get the police involved. In effect he did his crazy, homicidal behavior on his own time. Makes you wonder if he thought he might get away with it somehow? Crazy.

  13. I always like to point out the fact that a background check has yet to stop any of the teachers who ended having sex with minor who where their students. Teachers and other school employees, School bus drivers, and Residential mortgage originators all require background checks and yet, we see teachers who have stolen money, bus drivers who are drunks and wrecked buses with students inside an as far mortgages, we know Country Wide and others actually had felons on the payroll — so how good are background checks? They suck because they do not work because of some simple facts; 1) The database with the information is never up to date 2) Background checks are just a point of time, you do not know when someone goes nuts and does something stupid. Background checks are simple security theater.

  14. I can think of no better example than background checks to illustrate how we and the antis often talk past each other from two completely separate planes of thought. They want to remove danger from the human condition, to twist and bend the reality so it conforms to their world-view, and they think some magical background check is our ticket to an impossible utopia. These people never took the Disney glasses off in middle/high school and talk to us as if we’re all still wearing them because they’re afraid to recognize their own incompetence in a world full of danger.

    We recognize that no matter how stringent the background check, there will always be committed psychopaths who will jump through every hoop and play every persona to a T in order to obtain any weapon they desire. Look at how many people sneak weapons into American prisons or craft their own in house for the right price. There is simply no way to 100% prevent someone truly dedicated to committing murder from gaining access to whatever weapon he/she wants, and the best we can do when that sort of threat rears its ugly head is recognize and react. Shredding everyone’s civil liberties in an effort to “end gun violence” is wasted effort at best and complicity with the murderers at worst by handing them a target-rich environment a la the “gun free zone.”

  15. UBER should probably fire this guy for moonlighting as a murderer while he was supposed to be driving. Sheesh!

    We’re all uncaught criminals, but most people keep their murdering tendencies safely locked inside their own heads. I suppose he figured he wasn’t going to be a professional psychopath (doesn’t have a politician look) so he took the amateur route.

    Prayers for healing the families of the victims. There is no explanation that will satisfy, only the reality that we are all cursed, all systemically dysfunctional, just at different levels.

    Oh, and STOPNEWSOM.COM

  16. Dalton may have continued picking up fares in the middle of his rampage

    Well, of course he did. Because even a psychopathic, psychotic, bloodthirsty rampage killer has to make a living.

  17. Even though this happened in Michigan, I see they had to get in a comment from the San Francisco DA, a city that has problems accepting the Uber business model. It is fairly hypocritical of a city that allows previously deported felons free run of the city to be criticizing Uber’s background checks.

    • Not surprising that the San Francisco D.A. would comment, since the U.S. office of Uber is on Market Street in downtown San Francisco. Also not surprising, given that, that Uber would have a gun prohibition policy (that doesn’t work). What I did find interesting, though not surprising, is that their headquarters in S.F. is only 1 mile west of the office I used to work in on Market Street. Small world.

      • A mile from SOMA? Like Market and Embarcadero? Because if your old office was much more than that, it would have to be a boat… 😉

  18. I don’t think any background check is perfect. Why all the heat on Uber? Uber didn’t shoot 8 people. I’ve driven through kalamazoo and it seemed nice. Anyone shudder when they saw the perp and think “John Wayne Gacy”?…

  19. This, of course, has exactly zip, zilch, zero whatsoever to do with Uber. Any more than any other murder has to do with jobs the murderer may at some point have had. Some dude driving around in his own car shooting people. That’s all.

    The only reason Uber is even mentioned, is that “we” have become a “nation” of 98% useful idiots, who fall for every pathetic attempt to open up bigger pockets to ambulance chasing lawyer trash. That’s it. Full stop. 100%. And those who don’t even get that: Congratulations on membership in the 98.

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