BURLINGTON, Wash. — On the day of the Cascade Mall shooting, Jacob Dodds did what he did every Friday — watch a movie.
“In theater number 11,” Dodds said.
As he walked out of the exit-only doors closest to Theatre Number 11 inside the mall’s Cineplex Odeon, he discovered something unusual.
“The iPhone itself was propping it open, so a person could prop it open and walk in there,” Dodds said.
Dodds, a former employee of the cinema, said the cellphone was propping open one of the exit doors that is supposed to be closed so he turned it in to a supervisor. He later found out from a manager at the cinema that the cellphone belonged to Arcan Cetin, the accused shooter caught on surveillance gunning down 5 innocent people inside the nearby Macy’s on Sept. 23.
“He was walking around the lobby area and close to where I was at,” Dodds said.
New details, specifically that the door was propped open, suggest Cetin may have been plotting to shoot people inside the movie theater -- an attack possibly similar to the deadly Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting.
“I am just glad that the people at the theater got out safely,” Dodds said.
Other people inside the cinema at the time now believe Dodds' discovery of the cellphone may have saved many lives.
“He would have probably been in there if that man had not done that,” Sandi Anderson said.
Anderson says she came face-to-face with Cetin as she tried to walk out the same door where the cellphone was discovered minutes before. She says Cetin was locked out and when she opened the door he seemed frantic.
“He was going like this with his foot, just so nervous, just moving that foot like crazy. He stood right in front of me and he said, 'I got to get my phone' I got to get my phone.' I said, well, let me out,” Anderson said.
Anderson added that she and her husband talked about the stranger’s odd behavior but believed at the time he was just trying to sneak in to watch a movie.
“We were going to go into Macy’s but we chose to go home because I was tired,” Anderson said.
But these five innocent people inside the Macy’s weren’t so lucky. Detectives say Cetin confessed to the shooting when interviewed by police, but didn’t say why he did it.
Police documents reveal Cetin came to United States from Turkey when he was 7.
Police asked Cetin, who described himself as a devout Sunni Muslim, whether his Turkish relatives had ties to terrorist groups and he said no. He also said he didn't have any contact with those relatives.
"Cetin did admit to taking an interest in ISIS beheadings which he watched on the Internet and he also stated that he listens to the news and reads articles about ISIS," the police report said.
Police asked him if he thought what terrorists did was wrong, he said yes, the report said.
"He was asked if he was to be labeled a Muslim terrorist for these shootings would this be okay for him and he said, 'I can't answer that,'" the police report said. "He was asked if terrorist groups such as ISIS inspired him to commit these murders and he again said, 'I can't answer that.'"
Dodds said the new information is disturbing but he wants to focus on the victims, not the shooters.
“I fear it can encourage other people to take up or follow that example,” Dodds said.