'I had a guardian angel looking out for me,' Tori Curtis tells PEOPLE

By K.C. Baker
Updated February 23, 2016 11:30 AM
Credit: Courtesy Tori Curtis

brightcove.createExperiences(); College student Tori Curtis declined to accept an Uber car she had ordered Saturday night in Kalamazoo, Michigan – which may have saved her life.

Curtis, a 21-year-old senior at a Michigan university, and a friend, Mallory LeMieux, took their mothers out to dinner and then “barhopping” in downtown Kalamazoo, ending the night at the Wild Bull Saloon, she tells PEOPLE.

“It was a fun mother-daughter night,” she says.

While they were out, she says LeMieux’s father sent a text about a story he had seen on the news about a shooter in the area who was driving a Chevy HHR. “All that registered was the word ‘Chevy,'” she says.

Police were searching for Uber driver Jason Brian Dalton, 45, for an alleged shooting spree in Kalamazoo County that left six people dead and two injured, including a 14-year-old girl who remains in critical condition. The married father of two was arrested around 12:40 a.m. on Feb. 21 in downtown Kalamazoo, near the Wild Bull.

According to multiple reports, Dalton admitted “his involvement in these incidents,” Kalamazoo County prosecutor Jeff Getting told reporters.

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At about 12:25 a.m., when the mothers and daughters were getting ready to leave, LeMieux requested an Uber to pick up the foursome and drive them home.

Curtis took pause when she saw on the Uber app on LeMieux’s phone that the car coming to get them was a Chevy.

“I said, ‘I don t feel comfortable getting into a Chevy.’

“My mom said, ‘Oh, Tori, we just want to get you home safely.'”

But Curtis says she remained “persistent” and refused to accept the Chevy as her Uber car.

“We had no idea the shooter was an Uber driver so what were the chances?” she says. “We use Uber all the time. But you never know.”

Looking at the Uber app, which tracks the location of nearby Uber drivers, they could see that the driver drove by the Wild Bull before circling back. “He passed our stop and we watched him come back. My friend thought he may have gotten lost,” she says.

They canceled the Chevy Uber three times, but the Chevy repeatedly came up as the Uber assigned to them. “There probably weren t any other cars available,” she says. “But I kept saying, ‘I don t want to get in a Chevy.'”

The next morning, when they learned that Dalton was the alleged shooter, Curtis says, “We just couldn t believe it. We hadn t seen the news until then.

“We had the Uber history and the driver’s picture and his name and saw that it was him,” she says. “We looked at where and when he was arrested. He got arrested six minutes after he arrived to pick us up. We would have been his last stop of the night.”

Her mom and LeMieux and her mom thanked her for trusting her instincts. “We were very lucky,” she says.

“I had a guardian angel looking out for me.”

Statement by Shooter’s Family: ‘We Are Devastated and Saddened for the Victims and the Families of the Victims’

In a statement to the media, the family of Dalton said, in part: “The Dalton family would like to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims of the shootings in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. There are no words which can express our shock and disbelief, and we are devastated and saddened for the victims and the families of the victims. We cannot comprehend the grief which you are feeling, and, while it seems woefully inadequate, we are deeply sorry and are praying for everyone affected.

“We would also like to express our prayers and concern for the two persons who are currently hospitalized. We are praying for both of you, and for your families.”