NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, February 24, 2016, 5:44 PM
DeAllen Blackburn was seconds away from jumping into a car with a suspected mass murderer clutching a smoking gun.
The 18-year-old Michigan man discovered hours after his near-miss that accused Kalamazoo killer Jason Dalton was driving the Uber sent to pick him up — and had just shot a young mom in front of her kid.
“Thinking back, I’m glad I didn’t get into that car,” the fortunate Blackburn told the Daily News. “I think this is so crazy.”
By the end of last Saturday, Dalton’s rampage left six people dead, a 14-year-old girl critically injured and another woman shot three times while protecting her child.
In between the murders, the Uber-driving suspect picked up fares as if nothing had happened.
DeAllen Blackburn, 18, discovered hours after his near-miss that accused Kalamazoo killer Jason Dalton (pictured) was driving the Uber sent to pick him up.
Blackburn was coming down from his Richland Township apartment last Saturday to catch an Uber ride to his girlfriend Maci Eldridge’s house when he heard gunshots.
Eldridge had told Blackburn to look for a Chevy Equinox sent by Uber — but never told her boyfriend the color. Initially, he wasn’t sure if the silver car seen speeding away from The Meadows development was coming for him.
But later, after catching another Uber to his teenage girlfriend’s home in Kalamazoo, Blackburn connected the dots that led to Dalton.
Rather than pick up his fare, Dalton allegedly opened fire on a young mother watching her daughter and four other kids in a playground near their townhouse.
Local residents told the Daily News that Dalton, 45, of Cooper Township, Mich., approached Tiana Carruthers to ask if she was “Mazey” — an apparent reference to Blackburn’s girlfriend.
It’s unclear if Carruthers replied, but Dalton opened fire with his .9mm semi-automatic handgun to start his five-hour shooting spree, authorities said.
Carruthers, although shot three times, shuttled the kids into the safety of a nearby apartment where a call was placed to 911.
Authorities said 10 shell casings were found at the site, and seven bullet holes pierced the siding of a nearby townhouse.
Carruthers, in serious condition at a local hospital, became a hero for using her body as a human shield to protect the kids from the hail of bullets.
Police investigate the scene outside Oshtemo Township, Mich., Cracker Barrel where four people were shot in their vehicles.
“She risked her life for those babies,” said neighbor and friend Ciera Clements, 25, said. “That’s the first thing she did — protect those children. I want the world to know what a beautiful, heroic spirit she has.”
There’s a part of Blackburn that wonders what might have been if he’d known what the rest of Dalton’s murderous day would hold.
“There was a lot of confusion at the time,” he told The News. “If I had known that was him, I would have acted.”
Police executing a search warrant Wednesday pulled 11 long guns and four handguns from Dalton’s home.
Chris Killian reporting in Richland Twp., Mich.