MI shooting suspect dragged out of court during victim’s testimony

Jason Dalton is dragged out of the courtroom after an outburst during his preliminary hearing. (May 20, 2016)

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.

Tiana Carruthers is led into court to testify in Jason Dalton's preliminary hearing. (May 20, 2016)
Tiana Carruthers is led into court to testify in Jason Dalton’s preliminary hearing. (May 20, 2016)

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.

Jason Dalton is led into court for a preliminary hearing in the Kalamazoo area shooting case. (May 20, 2016)
Jason Dalton is led into court for a preliminary hearing in the Kalamazoo area shooting case. (May 20, 2016)

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.

“It’s a really quiet neighborhood… and I had never seen him before,” she said before Dalton interrupted her.

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.

Top, left to right: Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne and Mary Jo Nye. Bottom, left to right: Mary Lou Nye, Rich Smith and Tyler Smith.
Top, left to right: Judy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne and Mary Jo Nye. Bottom, left to right: Mary Lou Nye, Rich Smith and Tyler Smith.

Dalton is also charged with shooting 14-year-old Abbie Kopf and Carruthers multiple times. Both are still recovering.

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, and sounded 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.

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