The 20-year-old suspect in the deadly Washington State mall shooting said nothing and appeared “zombie-like” when he was arrested by authorities nearly 24 hours into an intense manhunt, authorities said.
Island County Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Hawley said he spotted Arcan Cetin from a patrol car Saturday evening in Oak Harbor, Washington, and immediately recognized him as the suspect who killed five people at the Cascade Mall in nearby Burlington.
Hawley said at a news conference they had received information that Cetin, of Oak Harbor, was in the area. Cetin, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey, is a legal permanent resident who has been living in Oak Harbor, authorities said. He had been arrested once before in the county for assault, Hawley said.
“I literally hit my brakes, did a quick turn, I jumped out,” Hawley said. “We both jumped out with our guns, and he just froze.”
Cetin was unarmed and was carrying a satchel with a computer in it. “He was kind of zombie-like,” Hawley said.
The suspect’s arrest capped a frantic search following the slayings of five people the day before.
The first 911 call came in just before 7 p.m. on a busy Friday night at the Cascade Mall: A man with a rifle was shooting at people in the Macy’s department store.
By the time police arrived moments later, the carnage at the Macy’s makeup counter was complete. Four people were dead, and the shooter was gone, last seen walking toward Interstate 5. The fifth victim, a man, died in the early morning hours Saturday as police finished sweeping the 434,000-square-foot building.
“There are people waking up this morning, and their world has changed forever. The city of Burlington has probably changed forever, but I don’t think our way of life needs to change,” Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said Saturday at a news conference.
Authorities said it now appears the rifle was brought into the mall from a suspect vehicle that was there, Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said Saturday night.
Cetin has not been charged, Cammock said. He will be booked into the Skagit County Jail and is expected to appear in Skagit County District Court on Monday.
As the small city absorbed the tragic news, critical questions remained, including the shooter’s motive.
Initially, the suspect was described as Hispanic, but Hawley said that was based on initial witness statements to the shooting at the mall.
Surveillance video captured the suspect entering the mall unarmed and then recorded him about 10 minutes later entering Macy’s with a “hunting type” rifle in his hand, Cammock said.
Authorities did not say how the suspect may have obtained the weapon — whether he retrieved it from outside or picked it up in the mall — but they believe he acted alone. The weapon was recovered at the scene.
The identities of the victims — four women who ranged in age from a teenager to a senior citizen — were withheld pending autopsies and notification of family. The identity of the man who was fatally shot was also withheld and may not be released until Monday.
Earlier Saturday, as police scrambled to find the shooter, the small city waited and worried. The community of 8,600 people is too far from Seattle to be a commuter town, but its population swells to 55,000 during the day because of a popular outlet mall, retail stores and other businesses. Burlington is the only major retail center within 30 miles in a region where agriculture is king.