Gun violence over the weekend in Kalamazoo, Mich., sent another chill through the United States when six people were slain in a nearly seven-hour random killing ordeal.
What made it worse is the 45-year-old gunman who was arrested was an Uber driver. Jason Dalton faces charges in the homicides and the wounding of two other persons. Authorities were reporting that the shootings appeared to be random.
The shootings began about 5:30 p.m. Saturday with a woman being wounded outside an apartment building. About 10 p.m. a father and son were slain outside a car dealership. About 15 minutes afterward, four women were gunned down outside a restaurant.
Dalton, a former insurance adjuster, was arrested without incident about 12:40 a.m. Sunday. Authorities didn’t have a motive for the mass shooting.
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Kalamazoo has a population of about 74,200 people. The median age is 25.3 and estimated median household income of $33,766. The population is 68 percent white, 22 percent African American, 6 percent Latino and 1 percent Asian.
The violence will add to concern in the U.S. over the need for more effective gun control. It has been an election issue, however, with little agreement on what should be done.
The killings also raise concerns for Uber and other ride-hailing services. News reports have shown drivers being assaulted by riders.
This is the first widely publicized instance of an Uber driver being involved in gun violence. It comes at a time when companies like Uber are negotiating with cities and states to enable them to operate in a safe and effective manner.
There is no doubt that the growth of the “shared economy” in the U.S. and abroad depends on people feeling safe and secure — particularly when they are traveling out of town. That includes people trusting smartphone apps to hail rides for ease and low-cost convenient transportation and depending on house sharing through such services as Airbnb.
Those services have done well and have been an instant hit particularly among millennials, who willingly have turned to them over owning vehicles or using traditional public transportation services. House sharing has been a hit over hotels, motels and trendier bed and breakfasts.
The shooting in Kalamazoo already is raising concerns over whether services in the shared economy are doing enough to screen the people who are in direct contact with the public. Until strong assurances come from the responsible companies, they can expect consumers to remain concerned.