Uber defends driver scrutiny in wake of shooting

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San Francisco (AFP)

Uber on Monday said that while it was "devastated" by a deadly shooting spree by one of its drivers the company has no plans to change its background check methods.

In a telephone briefing with reporters, Uber expressed confidence in how well it checks whether aspiring drivers have pasts that signal trouble ahead.

Uber's chief security officer Joe Sullivan said that the ride-sharing company has been working "around the clock" with police since the killing spree in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan Saturday night.

"No background check process would have made a difference in this case, because he did not have a criminal history," Sullivan said during a conference call with reporters.

"If there is nothing on someone's record, a background check is not going to raise a flag."

Jason Brian Dalton, 45, sat stony-faced in an orange prison jumpsuit, thick glasses shielding his downcast eyes, as a judge on Monday read the charges against him in a Kalamazoo court. Dalton appeared via videoconference from the jail.

Dalton was formally charged with six counts of murder after he allegedly went on the weekend killing spree -- possibly picking up passengers along the way.

Prosecutors said they were still trying to determine why Dalton began firing -- seemingly at random -- as he drove through Kalamazoo.

Uber shrugged off questions related to why the shooting spree made the firm a target for scrutiny instead of Dalton's prior employer or even the accused killer's ability to get a gun.

"I do think the fact that Uber is a technology company and a company that has been expanding so rapidly has made more of the media attention directed on Uber," said Uber safety advisory board member Margaret Richardson, a former advisor in the office of the US Attorney General.