By Alyssa Evans
Update as of 11:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24: Arcan Cetin, a 20-year-old man from Oak Harbor, was arrested in Oak Harbor around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24 in connection with a shooting at the Cascade Mall in Burlington that occurred Friday, Sept. 23, according to Washington State Patrol.
Four women and one man are confirmed dead, according to the Washington State Patrol. The man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center. Previous reports said four women had died and one man injured. Additional reports also said one woman and man were injured, as well as three women dead.
An evening press conference was held Saturday, Sept. 24. During the press conference, Mount Vernon Lt. Chris Cammock stated law enforcement was not yet aware if the suspect had any connections with the victims.
Island County Lt. Michael Hawley was involved with finding the suspect in Oak Harbor. After hearing on the scanner the suspect may have been spotted, Hawley went to the location with other officers.
“I saw an individual walking northbound on the sidewalk, and I instantly recognized that is the person I just viewed on my computer,” Hawley said at the evening press conference. “I did an abrupt U-turn, hit my lights [and] pulled my gun.”
The suspect was then taken into custody. He had no weapons on him, Hawley said.
“He said nothing. He was kind of zombie-like. I feel that’s the best I could describe for him,” Hawley said.
The suspected shooter left the scene before police arrived, according to a tweet by Washington State Patrol trooper Sgt. Mark Francis.
The shooting was first reported by Francis at 7:33 p.m. Friday, Sept. 23 and took place in the women’s section of Macy’s. The suspect was originally described as a Hispanic male with black hair, last seen wearing a black shirt. In the evening press conference, Cammock confirmed the suspect to be a legal permanent resident of the U.S. who emigrated from Turkey.
A press conference was held Saturday morning to provide details about the situation.
“What we know now is the suspect entered the mall without a weapon,” Cammock said at the morning press conference.
About 10 minutes later, the suspect entered Macy’s with a rifle. The suspect then struck four women and a male, the youngest subject being a teenager, Cammock said.
“We just want everyone in the community to know we’re going to get beyond this,” Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said at the morning press conference.
Law enforcement received numerous tips about persons of interest to look at Friday night and throughout the day Saturday, Cammock said. One tip had information that was pursued, which resulted in the interview of the suspect’s acquaintances. Investigators also were able to pull video footage from the mall, resulting in the identification of a suspect vehicle. From there, the Mount Vernon Police Department was able to connect with the Island County Sheriff Department to find the suspect, Cammock said.
Law enforcement believes the suspect may have grabbed the rifle used for the shooting from the vehicle, which has been taken into custody, Cammock said.
“He said nothing. He was kind of zombie-like. I feel that’s the best I could describe for him.”
Island County Lt. Michael Hawley
A motive for the suspect’s actions has not yet been revealed by law enforcement.
The suspect has not been formally charged and will be booked into the Skagit Valley Jail with an investigative charge, Cammock said.
At the evening press conference, Sexton recognized those involved with the situation.
“As I mentioned earlier, last night we suffered an attack on our community, and it really defined to me what a community is,” Sexton said.
Gov. Jay Inslee responded to the shooting at the evening press conference.
“As governor of the state of Washington, I can say our entire state is united,” Inslee said. “I’ve been across the state today, from Tacoma, to Othello, to Burlington, and I can say all of our hearts are in Burlington tonight.”
View a Twitter timeline of the event below:
None of the victims have been publicly identified by law enforcement yet.
During the morning press conference, Sexton noted about 200 individuals working the scene from multiple police departments and agencies.
“They did a fantastic job,” Sexton said.
Inslee originally responded to the shooting through a public statement Friday, Sept. 23.
“Tragedy has struck in Washington tonight. Our hearts are in Burlington where a shooter has taken the lives of at least four people,” Inslee said in the statement. “Many questions remain but our state patrol and local law enforcement are on the scene working swiftly to locate the shooter and clear the area.”
Inslee’s statement came before the confirmation of five deaths.
“We just want everyone in the community to know we’re going to get beyond this.”
Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton
Survivors were taken to His Place Community Church in Burlington.
The mall was put on lockdown the night of the shooting and will remain closed throughout Sunday. The mall will resume normal hours Monday, Sept. 26, according to a tweet by the mall. The community is asked to avoid the mall due to several road closures and traffic build-up.
There is no inclination that this was a terrorism act, according to the FBI at the morning press conference.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available.
If anyone has any information regarding this incident contact the Skagit County Department of Emergency Management at (360)428-3211 or firstname.lastname@example.org.