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Burlington mall shooting: Suspect Arcan Cetin charged with premeditated murder

UPDATED: Mon., Sept. 26, 2016, 1:26 p.m.

This undated Department of Licensing photo posted Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, by the Washington State Patrol on its Twitter page shows Arcan Cetin, 20, of Oak Harbor, Wash. (Associated Press)
This undated Department of Licensing photo posted Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, by the Washington State Patrol on its Twitter page shows Arcan Cetin, 20, of Oak Harbor, Wash. (Associated Press)
By Vernal Coleman and Sara Jean Green Seattle Times

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. – Arcan Cetin has been charged with five counts of first-degree premeditated murder in connection with the fatal shootings of five people Friday at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Skagit County.

A criminal complaint, filed in Skagit County District Court on Monday morning, accuses the 20-year-old Oak Harbor man of walking into the Macy’s department store and opening fire, killing five people. The documents say he used a Ruger .22-caliber rifle with a 25-round magazine.

After his arrest, Cetin told detectives that he had committed the killings, according to the documents, which do not offer a motive for the shootings.

Cetin appeared briefly Monday morning in District Court, where he told a judge he understood the charges against him. Cetin was ordered held in lieu of $2 million bail.

Each charge is punishable by life in prison.

Cetin’s mother and stepfather attended the hearing along with friends and families of the victims. Nelma McMullen, ex-wife of Cetin’s biological father, said she was there to support his mother and stepfather. She said she had not been in close contact with Cetin.

After the hearing, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich told reporters he did not know a motive for the shootings.

The documents say Cetin had dinner with his stepfather at 4:30 p.m. Friday, about 2 1/2 hours before the shootings. At some point, the two men had a falling-out, but the documents don’t indicate when.

Cetin left dinner, telling his stepfather he was going to an Oak Harbor gym.

According to the documents, Cetin was seen on surveillance video walking into a Chuck E. Cheese’s restaurant and then into the Cascade Mall. A short time later he left the mall through the west entrance of the Macy’s, walked to his car and removed a rifle from the trunk, the documents say.

He then walked back into the Macy’s store through the same entrance. The documents say he walked up to a 16-year-old girl, identified by relatives as Sarai Lara, and shot her as she was looking at clothing on racks.

Cetin then walked to the cosmetics department and shot the sole male victim, Chuck Eagan, and three women who have been identified as Macy’s makeup artist Shayla Martin, 52, Beatrice Dotson, 95, and her daughter, Belinda Galde, 64.

He left the rifle on a counter in the cosmetics department and left the store, the documents allege.

Cetin left in his car and was last seen driving near Burlington Boulevard and Fairhaven Avenue.

Cetin was identified as a suspect from tips and after police examined surveillance video from the mall and linked him to a vehicle seen in the mall parking lot, police said. Skagit County authorities alerted the Island County Sheriff’s Office, which arrested Cetin without incident around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

Skagit County court records show Cetin has a criminal record that includes domestic-violence assault charges in both Burlington and Island County, with the victim identified as Cetin’s stepfather. Island County District Court records show Cetin was told by a judge on Dec. 29 that he was not to possess a firearm.

Records from Island County District Court, obtained Monday by the Seattle Times, show that Cetin was accused of sexually touching two female classmates with his feet during a math class at Oak Harbor High School in October 2014, and then was arrested eight months later for misdemeanor domestic-violence assault for twice kissing his stepfather on the lips and punching him in the face during an argument about Cetin’s marijuana use.

When confronted about using his feet to rub the legs and thighs of two girls in his math class, Cetin told sheriff’s deputies he had stayed home sick and so wasn’t at school that day, the records say. When deputies showed Cetin surveillance footage showing him walking in a school hallway on the day of the incident, he then said he had left early after vomiting on himself.

The girls, who repeatedly asked Cetin to stop touching them, also said he stared at them in a sexual way while touching himself – and copies of text messages they exchanged during the incident were given to deputies, according to court records.

After the argument with his stepfather in June 2015, a deputy noted that Cetin giggled and laughed as he wrote a statement detailing the incident, according to the records.

The three charges – two counts of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation involving his classmates, and fourth-degree assault domestic violence for the incident with his stepfather – were consolidated by the court in March. As part of a deferred prosecution, Cetin was under the care of a psychiatrist and his case was to be reviewed in May 2018.

According to a psychiatric evaluation included in his case file, Cetin was diagnosed with an impulse disorder, depression, anxiety and attention disorder/hyperactivity disorder.

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