Burlington shooting suspect confessed to killing five people, police say | KUOW News and Information

Burlington shooting suspect confessed to killing five people, police say

Sep 24, 2016

Updated at 11 a.m. Monday, 9/26/2016

Detectives say Arcan Cetin, 20, confessed to the slaying of five people at Cascade Mall in Burlington, according to documents filed in Skagit County District Court. 

Cetin was charged with five counts of premeditated murder and authorities are asking he be held on $2 million bail. 

Updated at 8:20 a.m. Sunday, 9/25/2016.

Police have identified the suspect in the Cascade Mall shooting as Arcan Cetin, age 20, of Oak Harbor. He was arrested after Island County Sheriff's officers spotted him walking down a road in Oak Harbor about 24 hours after opening fire at the Macy's cosmetic counter. Four female victims died at the scene.  A male victim died later of his injuries at Harborview Medical Center.

During a press conference Saturday evening, the arresting officer described Cetin as "zombie-like," and said he froze after officers drew their guns. He was arrested without incident. He was not armed and appeared to have only a computer in a leather satchel with him.

The suspect, who was born in Turkey, but is a legal permanent resident of the United States,  has been turned over to the Skagit County Sheriff's Office and is expected to be charged. Police shared his immigration status when asked by a reporter during a press conference; the FBI persisted in saying that this does not appear at all connected to terrorism.  

The motive for the attack remains unknown. Investigators said it was too early in their investigation to rule out possible motivations.

The arrest came after tips from the community helped identify him. In addition, security camera footage identified his car at the mall and followed its progress. His family is cooperating with the investigation.  The investigation is being coordinated by the Skagit Multi-Agency Response Team.

Lt. Chris Cammock of the Mount Vernon Police Department commands the response team. He said at this point, the team has no evidence of a connection between Cetin and any of the victims.

Gov. Jay Inslee, speaking at the press conference, said, "All our hearts are in Burlington tonight."

At a vigil Saturday night, Kaylee Gains was relieved to hear about Cetin's arrest. Her brother works at the mall and she said that's where she does all her shopping. 

"To hear that it was that close to where I live was really shocking. I'm still shaking about it right now," she said. "It's a huge weight off your shoulders knowing that it's safe to come back to where you always go."

Rayna Richards was also at the vigil and talked about how shootings seem so distant when they happen elsewhere, but it really hits hard when it's your own backyard.  

"We don't always get the 'why' in a situation, so what can we do about it? We can unite and come together and pray and just ask for peace," Richards said. 

The names of the victims have not yet been publicly  identified by the Skagit County Coroner's office, which was unable to access the scene until Saturday afternoon. However, community members and friends gathered at prayer vigils earlier Saturday evening to remember the victims.

Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton called the shooting a senseless act. "We suffered a devastating loss of five treasured members of our community," he said. "It changed those families forever. It changed our community. It brought the world to our city."

Cetin's first court appearance is expected to be Monday in Skagit County District Court.

Updated at 7:41 p.m. Saturday. 

Washington State Patrol reports that a suspect is in custody in Oak Harbor, Wash., roughly 30 miles southwest of Burlington where a shooter killed 5 people inside Cascade Mall. 

Just before 7 p.m. on Friday, a young man in black shorts and a black T-shirt entered Cascade Mall in Burlington. Security footage of him walking through the doors shows that he did not have a gun.

Ten minutes later, the young man -- who appears to be in his late teens or early 20s -- appeared at the cosmetics section of Macy's department with a rifle in hand.

There, he shot four women and one man. The women died immediately; the man was flown by helicopter to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He died on Saturday morning. 

The women ranged in age, from teenager to senior. The victims have not been publicly identified.

The young man fled the mall before police arrived, but they didn't know that as they started to sweep the mall. Authorities also didn't know if the gunman had acted alone. 

Police found the rifle at the mall.

According to the Skagit Valley Herald, police said a man believed to be the shooter was last seen on trails outside the mall, headed toward Interstate 5. The mall abuts the highway and is just south of the high school. A chain link fence separates the parking lot from the freeway.

A search of the mall, which is 434,000 square feet, lasted until about midnight. Unharmed shoppers inside the mall were transported by bus to His Place church nearby.

A nearby football field where a high school game was being played was evacuated.

By Saturday morning, the bodies of the women killed had not been removed from the mall. The Skagit County coroner said that when given access, she would take the four women’s bodies to Skagit Valley Hospital, where her team would perform autopsies. 

The gunman's motive remains unknown, although the FBI says it does not suspect terrorism. Asked how it had ruled out terrorism, an agent from the bureau's Seattle office told reporters that nothing about the shooting indicated terrorism. 

Authorities released these images of a suspect, asking people to call 360-428-3211 or email scinv@co.skagit.wa.us with information:

Authorities are asking people to call with information about this man.

This is a developing story. Some things reported by the media will later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police and other authorities and our reporters at the scene. We will update as the situation develops.

Gil Aegerter, Carolyn Adolph, Isolde Raftery, Ross Reynolds, Carol Smith, and Kate Walters  contributed to this report.