Karin Dalton of Seattle was protecting her children when she was shot and killed after a gunman opened fire last week inside a Greyhound bus in Northern California, a relative says.
“She died protecting her children,” said Amy Logue, Dalton’s cousin. “There were multiple wounds, and it was all in the name of protection.”
The Butte County Sheriff’s Office said Dalton, 43, was among five people struck by gunfire in the Feb. 2 shooting. The victims included Dalton’s 11-year-old daughter, her family said.
The man suspected in the shooting, Asaahdi Elijah Coleman, 21, had a partial arraignment on Wednesday, Butte County District Attorney Michael Ramsey said. Charges were read, but Coleman’s defense attorney, Robert Marshall, requested more time to gather information before his client enters a plea.
Continued arraignment and a plea are expected March 2, Ramsey said.
“Especially in a case this serious, there’s going to be voluminous information,” Marshall said. “There’s going to be boxes and boxes. It’s going to take a lot of investigation.”
Coleman was charged with one count of murder and four counts of attempted murder, court records show. Each count carries a special enhancement for using a weapon and causing great bodily injury. He also faces two counts, without enhancements, of being a prohibited person in possession of a firearm.
He faces 148 years to life in prison if convicted as charged, Ramsey said.
The shooting occurred around 7:30 p.m. as the Los Angeles-bound bus made a rest stop at a gas station and convenience store in Oroville, about 70 miles north of Sacramento, according to the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.
Coleman, who boarded the bus in Redding, had been acting paranoid and allegedly thought one of the passengers was an undercover law enforcement officer, said Sheriff Kory Honea. He opened fire with a 9-mm handgun as passengers were beginning to exit.
After arriving on scene, deputies responded to tips that Coleman was inside a nearby Walmart, Honea said. They found the suspect naked and acting erratically inside the store and arrested him “without further incident.”
Dalton’s daughter has been released from the hospital, Ramsey said. The girl and her 14-year-old brother, who wasn’t injured, are moving with family to another state.
A fundraiser organized by Dalton’s family said she gave her life to protect her children. About $10,000 of the fundraiser’s $50,000 goal had been raised as of Thursday.
The three other victims are in various stages of recovery, Ramsey said.
Dalton and her two children boarded the Greyhound bus the day before the shooting in Spokane. Greg Schroeder, her partner, said they were headed to New Mexico to visit her eldest son, before they would continue to Alabama and reunite there.
Dalton and her family were moving to Alabama, where the cost of living is more affordable than their home in Washington state. Plus, they had other relatives in Alabama.
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple of months,” Schroeder said. “I like the South, the people are friendly. She was supposed to contact me when she got there.”
Michael Hart, Dalton’s cousin, lives in Alabama, and Dalton’s family had visited him there before deciding to move there. He said the family hadn’t yet made arrangements on where they would live, but they were in contact with someone about renting a house.
“They were excited to come down. He was going to follow behind them and meet them here,” Hart said about Dalton’s partner. “They were both excited about this new adventure in their lives.”
Dalton’s family described her as a stay-at-home mom who was “very outgoing” person with a “spunky” personality. Her partner said she took a bus on their trip across the country because it was more affordable than booking a flight with two children.
Her family said Dalton had taken long bus trips before and she would routinely travel by bus from the Seattle area to visit family in the Southern California town of Gardena.
“It’s still hard to believe,” Hart said about the shooting. “It’s just a senseless act of violence that’s going to make it difficult for the family to have any closure.”
Information from the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee is included in this story.