Kalamazoo College juniors Yohana Iyob K’17 and Noah Bramlage K’17 left Monte Carlo around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20. After stopping at Iyob’s house, which is located behind Hicks Student Center, Bramlage wanted to stop home and change before heading to a party, according to Iyob. Not wanting to walk, the two decided to call an Uber.
When they called the Uber, they did not know that their driver, Jason Brian Dalton, had been on a mass-shooting spree since 6 p.m. that evening, which would end with the deaths of six and the injuries of an additional three before his apprehension at 12:30 a.m.
Dalton continued to take Uber clients between his attacks, which took place in multiple locations around the city. He was eventually arrested after being spotted leaving Rugger’s Up and Under Bar on West Michigan Avenue.
“Hindsight is 20/20, but he seemed strangely calm,” Iyob said. “We chatted with him about directions.”
Iyob and Bramlage drove with Dalton from Lovell St. to Davis St., a ride that took about six minutes. However, Iyob and Bramlage never ended up getting charged for the ride because Dalton cancelled the trip on the Uber application before even picking them up.
“He cancelled the trip, but he called us and told us he was here anyway. So I thought he must have made a mistake,” Iyob said. “I was going to tell him, but then I thought I wasn’t about to pass up a free ride.”
Because Dalton technically cancelled the trip, he did not have the address of Iyob’s destination in his GPS, and asked for verbal directions. According to Iyob, nothing about his demeanor seemed out of the ordinary.
Iyob and Bramlage did not know that they were in the car with the suspect until the next morning.
She then got a call from Uber apologizing for the incident. Through their records, the company could see the information of the clients picked up by Dalton.
Iyob and Bramlage have so far only talked with Uber about their time with Dalton, not the police. Once they figured out that they had spent time with the killer, they contemplated their options. Ultimately, they decided not to go to the authorities because they were with him for such a short period of time.
“The police can get my information through Uber if they need to,” she said, “I just asked [Uber] to let me know before they give my name, number, or address out.”
Iyob said that she will not be using the app again any time soon. “I will not be taking Uber again for awhile. I won’t feel comfortable riding with strangers for awhile.”
Iyob is ready to put this ordeal behind her. “I appreciate all the love that people have shown me, but this is something I don’t feel I need to talk about anymore … As a whole community, we need to move past it, and I need to move past it.”
Iyob pointed out that there are members of this community who have been more affected by the crimes committed, such as Tiana Carruthers. Carruthers reportedly shielded a group of children from Dalton’s gunfire, sustaining at least two shots in the process. She survived, and was able to give police information they needed to secure Dalton’s arrest later that night. Carruther’s is an employee of Temp Express Agency, and worked for K dining services during the spring of 2015.
“To be quite honest I’m just happy that Yohana and I are alive and that more people weren’t injured,” Bramlage said about the situation. “…I would have preferred a prompter response [from security.] Seeing as how he had already started shooting people when he picked us up it’s a little ridiculous to think that K wouldn’t have known or at least been alerted.”
Eric Wimbley, Head of Security, said that they were not aware of the situation until 11:30 p.m. or 12:00 a.m.
“There was a shooting that occurred at 6:00 [p.m.], there was a shooting that occurred at 10 [p.m.], there was one that occurred at 10:25 [p.m.], even the police didn’t know that these were related until after they caught the guy. No one knew until 2 o’clock [a.m.], or whenever they started interviewing this guy, that they were all related,” Wimbley said.
Security became aware of the situation after students and staff members brought it to their attention. After looking at the news, as well as making attempts to get in contact with friends in law enforcement, Wimbley and Sarah Westfall, Dean of Students, started drawing up a statement to put over the K alert system, which went out at 12:26 a.m.
“We didn’t confirm anything, we were never able to confirm anything, whether the person was apprehended, how active the shooting was, but we made the decision based on what was going to be best for the students,” Wimbley said, “… we wouldn’t want them to go out not knowing what was going on.”
Security stayed at Monte Carlo until 2 a.m. giving rides to students, with one guard staying all night offering rides.
Wimbley encourages students to always call security if anything suspicious is happening because that is how they get most of their information.