Washington mall shooting suspect had multiple arrests, documented disputes

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. Patrol Sgt. Mark Francis Saturday via Twitter identified Cetin as the suspect in a shooting at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., that left several dead and sparked an intensive, nearly 24-hour manhunt. Authorities say Cetin was apprehended Saturday evening. (Washington State Patrol via AP)

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (AP) — The 20-year-old man suspected of killing five people with a rifle at a Macy’s makeup counter had a string of run-ins with the law in recent years, including charges he assaulted his stepfather, and was described by a neighbor as so “creepy, rude and obnoxious” that she kept a Taser by her front door.

As investigators tried to piece together information on Arcan Cetin, who was arrested Saturday evening after a nearly 24-hour manhunt, a picture emerged of a troubled young man. Court records show more than a half-dozen criminal cases in Island County alone since 2013.

Authorities said the gunman in the attack at the Cascade Mall in Burlington opened fire in the department store’s cosmetics department Friday night, killing a man and four females ranging from a teenager to a senior citizen. The killer then fled.

Cetin said nothing and appeared “zombie-like” when he was taken into custody on a sidewalk outside his apartment complex some 30 miles away in Oak Harbor by a sheriff’s officer who recognized him as the suspect in the rampage, authorities said.

Cetin immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey and is a legal permanent resident, officials said.

As the surrounding area absorbed news of the arrest, critical questions remained, including the gunman’s motive. The FBI said early Saturday that there was no indication the shooting was terrorism, but local authorities said later in the day that they were ruling nothing out.

On Sunday, investigators searched Cetin’s vehicle and the apartment complex and were seen carrying boxes from a rear, upstairs unit. The four-unit building was surrounded with yellow police tape. Detectives would not say what they found.

Amber Cathey, 21, lived in an apartment next to Cetin for the past three months and said she was so frightened by him that she complained to apartment management and kept a stun gun handy. Cathey said she blocked him on Snapchat after he sent her a photo of his crotch.

“He was really creepy, rude and obnoxious,” Cathey said. She said she would try to avoid him by walking the long way around to her apartment if she saw his car in the parking lot. The two were in high school together as well, and Cathey said he acted the same way then.

Photo: Bronlea Mishler, Skagit Multiple Agency Response Team
Photo: Bronlea Mishler, Skagit Multiple Agency Response Team

Cetin’s arrest capped a frantic search following the slayings of five people the day before.

Authorities said it now appears the rifle was brought into the mall from the suspect’s 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.

The Seattle Times reports that Skagit County court records show three domestic-violence assault charges against Cetin. The victim was identified as Cetin’s stepfather.

The newspaper reports Cetin also was arrested for drunken driving.

Cetin was told by an Island County District Court judge on Dec. 29 that he was not to possess a firearm, the newspaper reported.

However, the stepfather urged the judge not to impose a no-contact order, saying his stepson was “going through a hard time.”

Attempts to reach suspect’s family and friends for comment by phone and social media late Saturday night weren’t immediately successful.

A man who came to the door Sunday morning at an Oak Harbor address believed to be where Cetin’s stepfather and mother live asked an Associated Press reporter to leave the property.

Neighbor Jon Johnson, 26, said he believed Arcan still lived at the house.

“He lives directly behind us,” Johnson said. “We’ve seen him.”

Johnson said when the suspect was first arrested “we were all like, ‘We’re pretty sure that’s him,’ and … it ended up being him.”

Johnson said they have had many disputes with the stepfather.

“Two years ago on the Fourth of July, we were having a function with our friends and (the stepfather) set tires on fire in the backyard,” he said.

Oak Harbor is a city of 22,000 on Whidbey Island. Many military families make their home in the city as Naval Air Station Whidbey Island is nearby. Oak Harbor is about 30 miles west of Burlington.

Rachel Marsh, 15, right, and Selena Orozco, 15, left, carry flowers as they attend a prayer service, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, at the Central United Methodist Church in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. The service was held in regard to Friday's fatal shooting of several people at a Macy's department store at the Cascade Mall in nearby Burlington, Wash. Both girls said they knew one of the victims of the shooting. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Rachel Marsh, 15, right, and Selena Orozco, 15, left, carry flowers as they attend a prayer service, Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016, at the Central United Methodist Church in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. The service was held in regard to Friday’s fatal shooting of several people at a Macy’s department store at the Cascade Mall in nearby Burlington, Wash. Both girls said they knew one of the victims of the shooting. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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 not immediately released.

The Seattle Times reported one of the victims is a 16-year-old girl. Sarai Lara’s mother said she had survived cancer as a young girl and was a happy student.

Authorities say another victim was a probation officer.

The Snohomish County District Court in a statement identified Belinda Galde as an employee with the court since 1989. The statement says the 64-year-old Galde “was an amazingly kind and caring individual” who helped thousands of probationers find a better way to live.

Baumann reported from Seattle. Associated Press writers Phuong Le in Burlington, Washington, Gillian Flaccus in Portland, Oregon, Kimberlee Kruesi and Keith Ridler in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.

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