A gunman police said killed five people in a Washington state mall remained at large Saturday as authorities appealed for help in identifying the suspect but said there were no indications the slayings north of Seattle were a terrorist act. (Sept. 24) AP
A day after five people were shot dead in a Burlington, Wash., mall, authorities arrested a man they say was behind the rampage.
The suspect, identified as 20-year-old Arcan Cetin of Oak Harbor, Wash., was taken into custody around 7 p.m. PT Saturday in Oak Harbor, roughly 29 miles southwest of Burlington.
Lt. Mike Hawley, Island County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies spotted the car near their office in Oak Harbor Saturday night, but no one was inside.
“I saw an individual walking northbound on the sidewalk and I instantly recognized that this is the person that I just viewed on my computer,” Hawley said.
“He said nothing,” Hawley added. “He was kind of zombie-like.”
Cetin was not armed at the time of his arrest. He had a computer in a bag he was carrying at the time.
Police impounded his car but are awaiting search warrants before taking a closer look.
Police say tips from the public helped them arrest Cetin Saturday, after a manhunt of more than 20 hours. They distributed blurry photos of the suspect online and asked the public for help identifying him.
No evidence pointed to terrorism, Michael Knutson, assistant special agent in charge of the Seattle FBI, said at the news conference late Saturday night. Authorities believe he is the only shooter.Authorities describe Cetin is a young resident of Oak Harbor who immigrated from Turkey.
He “is a legal, permanent resident of the United States,” said Chris Cammock, lieutenant of the Mount Vernon Police Department.
The exact motive behind the shooting that killed four women and a man in a Macy’s store remains unclear, but authorities say Cetin’s ex-girlfriend used to work at the store. However, she has not worked there in several months and now lives in another county.
The Seattle Times reports that Cetin’s criminal record includes three assault charges related to domestic violence, the victim being Cetin’s stepfather. Cetin also was arrested on a drunken driving charge, the Times reports.
A judge told Cetin Dec. 29 he could not possess a firearm, according to the Times. His stepfather convinced the judge not to impose a no-contact order. He said his stepson was “going through a hard time.”
Surveillance footage from the mall captured the suspect entering the building late Friday without a weapon but walking into Macy’s 10 minutes later with what appeared to be a “hunting-style” rifle, police said. He opened fire in the makeup area, then fled on foot out of range of cameras.
The four female victims died at the scene. The male victim died later at Harborview Medical Center.
One of the victims is a 16-year-old girl who beat cancer, the Seattle Times and KOMO-TV reports.
Sarai Lara was shopping for pants Friday night at the mall with her younger sister, her mother, Evangelina Lara, told the Seattle Times through a translator. They got split up.
Evangelina Lara said she learned at 2 a.m. Saturday her daughter was among the five victims.
Snohomish County Court said one of the victims was Belinda Galde, a longtime probation officer, KOMO-TV and NY Daily News reports.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement late Friday on Twitter expressing his condolences and prayers to those affected by the shootings.
“Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight,” Inslee wrote on Twitter. “Trudi and I send our condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for anyone injured. Stay close to friends and loved ones as we await more information and, hopefully, news of the suspect’s capture.”
Using 11 search teams and two K-9 units, Skagit County authorities went shop to shop to clear the 434,000-square-foot mall in Burlington, about 65 miles north of Seattle. Authorities distributed blurry photos of the suspect online and asked the public for help in identifying him.
Contributing: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY, from Los Angeles; KING-TV; Associated Press.