Kalamazoo Shooting: How a 14-year-old Michigan victim clung to life

A 14-year-old girl was almost pronounced dead prematurely after being shot in a Kalamazoo, Michigan, Cracker Barrel parking lot.

Abigail Kopf, a "strong-willed" 14-year-old, is on a ventilator in critical condition after being wounded in the attacks, her parents and doctor say.

She was originally believed to be among those killed early Sunday morning after the Saturday night rampage by alleged shooter Jason Dalton.

Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies of Bronson Children's Hospital said Abigail's heart beat stopped during attempts to save her life, but it was restored. An organ donation service was contacted with her parents' permission, though she was never declared medically brain dead, he said.

That's when the girl squeezed her mother's hand.

Lt. Dale Hinz with the Michigan State Police tells ABC that the mother then asked her daughter to squeeze her hand again if she could hear her, and she did. The doctor asked the girl to give a thumbs up if she could hear him, and she gave two thumbs up.

According to Hinz, the hospital then immediately started prepping the teen for surgery.

As of Monday morning, the girl is still hanging on, but there is no change in her condition.

Authorities are trying to piece together the hours-long weekend rampage that left six people dead in western Michigan.

Dalton, a 45-year-old Uber driver and former insurance adjuster who police said had no criminal record, was arrested in connection with the shootings after a massive manhunt and was expected to be arraigned Monday. Authorities did not provide a motive for what they said was his targeting of victims with no apparent connection to him or to each other.

"How do you go and tell the families of these victims that they weren't targeted for any reason other than they were there to be a target?" Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said at a Sunday news conference.

Kalamazoo County Undersheriff Paul Matyas described a terrifying series of attacks that began about 6 p.m. Saturday outside the Meadows apartment complex on the eastern edge of Kalamazoo County, where a woman was shot multiple times. She was expected to survive.

A little more than four hours later and 15 miles away, a father and his 17-year-old son were fatally shot while looking at cars at a car dealership.

Fifteen minutes after that, five people were shot in the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel restaurant, Matyas said. Four of them died.

"These are random murders," Matyas said.

Dalton was arrested without incident about 12:40 a.m. Sunday after a deputy spotted his vehicle driving through downtown Kalamazoo after leaving a bar parking lot, authorities said.

Matyas declined to disclose anything found in the vehicle except for a semi-automatic handgun.

By midday, authorities were investigating a Facebook post that indicated the suspect was driving for Uber during the manhunt and had taken at least one fare, Getting said.

A spokeswoman for Uber confirmed that Dalton was a driver for the company, but she declined to say whether he was driving Saturday night.

Uber prohibits both passengers and drivers from possessing guns of any kind in a vehicle. Anyone found to be in violation of the policy may be prohibited from using or driving for the service.

A man who knows Dalton said he was a married father of two who never showed any signs of violence.

Gary Pardo Jr., whose parents live across the street from Dalton in Kalamazoo Township, described him as a family man who seemed fixated on cars and often worked on them.

"He would go a month without mowing his lawn but was very meticulous with his cars," Pardo said, explaining that Dalton, at times, owned a Chevrolet Camaro and two Hummer SUVs.

Progressive Insurance confirmed that he once worked for the company before leaving in 2011.

Dalton was an insurance adjuster who did auto-body estimates and once taught an auto-body repair class at an area community college, said James Block, who has lived next door to him for 17 years.

"He loved to do things outside with his kids" like taking them for rides on his lawn tractor, Block said.

Dalton's wife and children were unhurt, authorities said.

The four people killed outside the restaurant were identified as 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye of Baroda and 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 68-year-old Barbara Hawthorne and 74-year-old Dorothy Brown, all of Battle Creek.

The two victims killed at the car dealership were identified as Tyler Smith and his father, Richard, who was 53.

With a population of about 75,000, Kalamazoo is about 160 miles west of Detroit. It is home to Western Michigan University and the headquarters of popular craft beer maker Bell's Brewery. The city also is known for the anonymously funded Kalamazoo Promise program, which has paid college tuition of students who graduate from Kalamazoo Public Schools for more than a decade.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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