7 killed in Michigan shooting rampage, suspect arrested

CHICAGO (AFP) - A man suspected of randomly opening fire in a Michigan town and shooting dead at least seven people, including a teenager, was arrested Sunday (Feb 21), US police said.  

The suspect was apprehended at 12:40am (1.40pm Singapore time) after a shooting rampage Saturday in the town of Kalamazoo, police said.  

“We believe we have our suspect in custody,” Lieutenant Dave Hines told a press conference.  

Hines said that there were three separate shootings – one outside an apartment complex, another outside a car dealership, and the third at a chain restaurant.  

Chief Jeff Hadley of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety later described the man arrested as a “strong suspect,” and told local media that the danger had passed.  

The gunman’s motives were as yet unclear, police said.  Several police agencies were involved in the case, and the death toll and profiles of those killed changed as details emerged.  

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas told CNN that seven people had been killed in the random shooting, while another person was wounded. Earlier police reports had put the death toll at between five and six.  

All three shooting incidents appear to be related, Matyas said.  

“This is your worst nightmare, when you have somebody just driving around randomly killing people,” Matyas told the local CNN affiliate 24 Hours News 8.  

One of the five people shot at the restaurant was a teenage girl – not a child as initially reported – while a father and son were among the dead at the car dealership.  

The suspect was armed when he was arrested at a traffic stop, but surrendered peacefully, Matyas said.  

The suspect was described as a white male in his late 50s, who drove a blue station wagon.  

Kalamazoo, in the northern state of Michigan, is located some 190km  west of the industrial city of Detroit and has a population of 76,000, according to census figures.  

The Kalamazoo shootings follow a pattern of mass shootings in the United States that include the Dec 2 massacre in San Bernardino, California, last year that left 14 people dead and 22 wounded, and the December 14, 2012, Sandy Hook school massacre in which 20 children and six adults were shot dead.  

Gun violence kills about 30,000 Americans every year and mass shootings – rare in most countries – have been on the rise in the United States.  According to the tracking website gunviolencearchive.org, there were 330 mass shootings in the United States in 2015, up from 281 in 2014. They affected nearly every part of the country, reaching into both big cities and small towns.