Suspect in mall shooting north of Seattle 'creepy, rude and obnoxious,' says neighbour
Neighbour and former classmate says she was afraid of Arcan Cetin, who was arrested after 24-hour manhunt
The 20-year-old suspected of killing five people at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., had a string of run-ins with the law in recent years, including charges he assaulted his stepfather.
As investigators tried to piece together information on Arcan Cetin, who was arrested Saturday evening after a nearly 24-hour manhunt, a picture emerged of a troubled young man. Court records show more than a half-dozen criminal cases in Island County alone, stretching back to 2013.
On Sunday, investigators searched Cetin's vehicle and the apartment complex and were seen carrying boxes from a rear, upstairs unit. The four-unit building was surrounded by yellow police tape. Detectives would not say what they found.
Amber Cathey, 21, lived in an apartment next to Cetin for the past three months and said she was so frightened by him that she complained to apartment management and kept a stun gun handy. Cathey said she blocked him on Snapchat after he sent her a photo of his crotch.
"He was really creepy, rude and obnoxious," Cathey said. She said she would try to avoid him by walking the long way around to her apartment if she saw his car in the parking lot. The two were in high school together as well, and Cathey said he acted the same way then.
Authorities said the gunman in the attack opened fire in Macy's cosmetics department Friday night, killing a man and four females ranging from a teenager to a senior citizen. The killer then fled.
A motive for the rampage remains unclear and Cetin, who is due to appear in court on Monday, has not been charged. The FBI said while they had no indication the attack was a "terrorism act," it could not rule out that possibility.
Police have reports that Cetin's ex-girlfriend worked at the Macy's, Francis said. The possible connection was under investigation.
Fondness for military and video games
Social media accounts apparently belonging to Cetin showed he had a fondness for the military and video games.
A Twitter account showed, among other things, selfies, photos of him in younger years and pictures of Turkish food. He once participated in paintball and said he "can't wait for Halo 5," the first-person shooter video game. A Facebook account showed he liked military-related sites.
Cetin also appeared to have blogs on the site Tumblr that had not been updated in many months. They included seemingly random posts about serial killer Ted Bundy, a collection of selfies, the top-secret Area 51 Cold War test site and photos of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Islamic State group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The two blogs linked back to each other and one of them linked to what appeared to be his Twitter page.
Island County Sheriff's Lt. Mike Hawley said he spotted Arcan Cetin from a patrol car Saturday evening in Oak Harbor, Wash., and immediately recognized him as the suspect in the Cascade Mall killings in nearby Burlington, 108 kilometres north of Seattle.
Hawley said at a news conference they had received information that Cetin, of Oak Harbor, was in the area. Cetin, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, is a legal permanent resident who has been living in Oak Harbor, authorities said. He had been arrested once before in the county for assault, Hawley said.
"I literally hit my brakes, did a quick turn, I jumped out," Hawley said. "We both jumped out with our guns, and he just froze."
Cetin was unarmed and was carrying a satchel with a computer in it.
"He was kind of zombie-like," Hawley said.
The suspect's arrest capped a frantic search that lasted nearly 24 hours.
Shooting began at Macy's makeup counter
The first 911 call came in just before 7 p.m. on a busy Friday at the Cascade Mall: A man with a rifle was shooting at people in the Macy's department store.
By the time police arrived moments later, the carnage at the Macy's makeup counter was complete. Four people were dead, and the shooter was gone, last seen walking toward Interstate 5. The fifth victim, a man, died in the early morning hours Saturday as police finished sweeping the building.
"There are people waking up this morning, and their world has changed forever. The city of Burlington has probably changed forever, but I don't think our way of life needs to change," Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said Saturday at a news conference.
Authorities said it now appears the rifle was brought into the mall from a suspect vehicle that was there, Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said Saturday night.
Cetin has not been charged, Cammock said. He will be booked into the Skagit County Jail and is expected to appear in Skagit County District Court on Monday.
Assault charges were filed against suspect
The Seattle Times reports that Skagit County court records show three domestic-violence assault charges against Cetin. The victim was identified as Cetin's stepfather.
The newspaper reports Cetin also was arrested for drunken driving.
Cetin was told by an Island County District Court judge on Dec. 29 that he was not to possess a firearm, the newspaper reported.
However, the stepfather urged the judge not to impose a no-contact order, saying his stepson was "going through a hard time."
A man who came to the door Sunday morning at an Oak Harbor address believed to be where Cetin's stepfather and mother live asked an Associated Press reporter to leave the property.
Neighbour Jon Johnson said he believed Arcan still lived at the house. Johnson said he had many disputes with the stepfather.
"Two years ago on the Fourth of July we were having a function with our friends and his dad set tires on fire in the backyard," he said.
As the small city absorbed the tragic news, critical questions remained, including the shooter's motive.
Initially the suspect was described as Hispanic, but Hawley said that was based on initial witness statements to the shooting at the mall.
Surveillance video captured the suspect entering the mall unarmed and then recorded him about 10 minutes later entering the Macy's with a "hunting type" rifle in his hand, Cammock said.
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Authorities did not say how the suspect may have obtained the weapon — whether he retrieved it from outside or picked it up in the mall — but they believe he acted alone. The weapon was recovered at the scene.
The identities of the victims — four women who ranged in age from a teenager to a senior citizen — were withheld pending autopsies and notification of family. The identity of the man who was fatally shot was also withheld and may not be released until Monday.
Earlier Saturday as police scrambled to find the shooter, people in the small city waited and worried.
The community of 8,600 people is too far from Seattle to be a commuter town, but its population swells to 55,000 during the day because of a popular outlet mall, retail stores and other businesses. Burlington is the only major retail centre within 48 kilometres in a region where agriculture is king.
Residents gathered Saturday to comfort each other at a community gathering in a city park.
"It's too scary. It's too close to home," said Maria Elena Vasquez, who attended the gathering with her husband and two young children.
Those who survived were still trying to process what happened as their community became the latest entry on a list of places known by the rest of world for mass shootings.
Joanne Burkholder, 19, of nearby Mount Vernon, was watching the movie The Magnificent Seven in the mall's theatre when security guards came in and told them to evacuate immediately. Dozens of panicked moviegoers gathered in the hallway, and Burkholder heard screaming as the officers escorted them to safety in a parking lot.
As she drove home later, she had to pull over because she was shaking so hard, she told The Associated Press.
"I'm just very thankful for my life this morning. I've never been so terrified in my life," she said Saturday, trying to hold back tears as she attended the community vigil.
People who believed they may have lost loved ones were being sequestered at a church three blocks from the mall, where counsellors and a golden retriever therapy dog were present.
Cancer survivor, 16, among victims
The Seattle Times reported that one of the victims in the deadly Washington state mall shooting is a 16-year-old girl.
Sarai Lara's mother said she had survived cancer as a young girl and was a happy student.
Evangelina Lara told the newspaper through a translator that she was shopping Friday night at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington, with Sarai and her younger sister, but they split up.
Evangelina Lara says it was confirmed at 2 a.m. Saturday that her daughter was among the five people killed.
Authorities in suburban Seattle identified another victim as Belinda Galde, 64, a probation officer with the Snohomish County District Court.
Dozens of people attended a Saturday evening prayer service for the victims. The gathering was held at Central United Methodist Church in nearby Sedro-Woolley, Washington.
The Rev. Cody Natland lit five candles on a table in front of the church, one for each victim.
With files from Reuters