Police: Cascade Mall shooting suspect admitted to killing victims


BURLINGTON, Wash. — The 20-year-old suspect in a shooting rampage at a mall in Burlington admitted to killing all five victims, according to court documents obtained Monday by Q13 News.

Authorities say the gunman in the attack at the Cascade Mall opened fire in the cosmetics department of the Macy’s store Friday night, killing a man and four women ranging from a teenager to a senior citizen.

Arcan Cetin, who was arrested Saturday evening after a nearly 24-hour manhunt, appeared Monday morning in Skagit County District Court in Mount Vernon.

He was formally charged Monday with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder. A judge set bail at $2 million.

Wearing a blue button-down shirt with his hands shackled in front of him, Cetin spoke only to say, “Yes sir,” in response to a judge’s questions. He was ordered to be back in court on October 26.

Prior to his appearance, Q13 News obtained an arrest warrant declaration from the Mount Vernon Police Department that said, “During a post Miranda interview with detectives, Cetin said that it was him in the video and he did bring the rifle into Macy’s and shot all 5 victims.”

According to the documents:

Witnesses told police that the suspect removed a rifle from the trunk of a car and then entered the Macy’s store. Police said the gunman was only inside the department store for one minute during the shooting spree. After shooting five people, the suspect placed the rifle on top of the cosmetics counter, left the store, got into his car and drove off.

Cetin is accused of using a Ruger 10-22 in the shooting. His father told police that his firearm was missing along with some ammunition, according to court records.

Detectives learned that the suspect exercised at a gym in Oak Harbor. They went to the gym and interviewed several employees who identified the suspect as Cetin.

On Saturday night, Cetin was walking down a street near his home in Oak Harbor, Washington, nearly 30 miles southwest of the Cascade Mall. As Lt. Mike Hawley of the Island County Sheriff’s Office cruised past, he spotted and approached Cetin.

Instead of running, Cetin simply froze and complied, Hawley said.

“He said nothing,” Hawley said. “[He was] just kind of zombie-like.”

Motive unclear

According to authorities, Cetin emigrated from Turkey and is a legal, permanent resident of the United States. It’s unclear when he moved to the US.

As of Monday morning, state authorities said they could not yet to rule out terrorism or any other motive given that the investigation was still in its early stages. Before the suspect’s arrest, an official with the FBI had told reporters there was currently “no evidence” that linked the shooting to a terrorist group.

Cetin has been arrested once in the past year, for simple assault, authorities said.

According to court records obtained by Q13 News, Cetin was also involved in several domestic violence incidents involving his stepfather. During one incident, Cetin struck his stepfather in the face, according to the records.

“We’re both totally devastated by what’s happened. We’re torn up. We’re hurt. And that’s all I can say,” Cetin’s stepfather told reporters outside the courtroom Monday alongside Cetin’s mother. “Arcan has had mental health issues that we have been trying to work on with him with him.”

Initially, Cetin walked into the Cascade Mall without a weapon in his hand. After scoping out the mall, authorities believe Cetin headed back to an aging blue Chevrolet Cavalier, retrieved the rife and returned about 10 minutes later to begin the rampage. He left the weapon at the scene before fleeing.

According to investigators, Cetin has an ex-girlfriend who worked for Macy’s, but not for its story in the Cascade Mall, said Sgt. Mark Francis, a state patrol spokesman. Authorities have not yet identified a link between the suspect and the victims.

Authorities, still uncertain where he got the weapon, collected evidence from the mall overnight Friday and all day Saturday. Eventually, they identified the car he used by matching information received from a tip with surveillance footage obtained from local business.

‘Devastating loss’

Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton, who had urged residents to inform the police so they could “get that son of a bitch who did this to our community,” said Sunday resident must now find a way to move past the “devastating loss” of five treasured community members.

“That was us in that mall last night — any one of us at any time,” Sexton said. “It changed those families forever. … It changed our community forever.”

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee praised the hundreds of law enforcement personnel involved with capturing Cetin in less than 24 hours. Speaking after Sexton, he noted that the entire state of Washington stood with Burlington.

“Passivity in the face of this scourge of violence is unacceptable,” he said.

Suspect appears in court

There are still plenty of questions authorities hope to answer in the coming days. At a news conference early Sunday, authorities did not discuss the state of his mental health, or if he had any connections to the victims.

According to Francis, investigators Sunday executed a search warrant at Cetin’s home where they collected “personal documents, electronic devices, and other evidence.”

Investigators did not find any additional firearms at Cetin’s home, Francis said.

Now authorities intend to flesh out the timeline of Cetin’s alleged actions Friday night. Over the weekend, Francis said detectives interviewed Cetin. This week they plan to focus on speaking with witnesses, family members and friends. Between those efforts, they hope to finally uncover a motive.

Stepfather: Suspect had mental health issues

Court records show the suspect in the deadly Washington state mall shooting had been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

The records from Island County show Arcan Cetin had taken medications in the past.

The documents also show Cetin’s criminal history goes back several years, with charges including assault, DUI, domestic violence and malicious mischief.

His stepfather told reporters after the hearing that Cetin “has had mental health issues that we have been working on him with.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.