Turkish-born suspect charged over deadly US mall shooting

This surveillance image courtesy of Washington State Police, shows Arcan Cetin in the shooting death of five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington on Sept 23, 2016.
This surveillance image courtesy of Washington State Police, shows Arcan Cetin in the shooting death of five people at the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington on Sept 23, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES • Police have arrested a Turkish-born man suspected of shooting five people dead, including a teenage cancer survivor, at a shopping mall in Washington state.

Arcan Cetin, a 20-year-old resident of the nearby town of Oak Harbor, was arrested last Saturday, about 24 hours after the killings, reported Agence France-Presse.

He has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder, reported CNN.

Police described Cetin's demeanour when apprehended as "zombie-like" and said he was unarmed, reported Reuters.

The motive for last Friday night's shooting remains unclear. The Federal Bureau of Investigation said that while it had no indication the attack was a "terrorism act," it could not be ruled out.

The gunman opened fire with a rifle at the make-up section of a Macy's department store at about 7pm, killing four women and a man, according to police. He left the store on foot, triggering an intense manhunt.

A weapon was recovered at the scene of the violence, Cascade Mall in Burlington, a town of about 8,000 people some 110km north of Seattle.

Cetin, 20, was arrested about 24 hours after five people were shot dead at a mall in Washington.
Cetin, 20, was arrested about 24 hours after five people were shot dead at a mall in Washington.

The youngest victim was named as Sarai Lara, 16, who survived cancer as a young girl. Relatives named another victim as 52-year-old Shayla Martin, who worked as a Macy's make-up artist, reported Agence France-Presse.

The authorities had initially described the suspect as a Hispanic man in his late teens or early 20s.

Members of the public called in with numerous tips that helped lead to the arrest, police said, adding that Cetin's family was cooperating.

While Cetin was born in Turkey, he is a legal permanent resident of the United States, said the police.

A Facebook page that appeared to belong to Cetin - and which has since been taken down - said he was born in the southern Turkish city of Adana. It also said he went to Oak Harbor High School, which is about 48km from Burlington, and had worked at a grocery store on nearby Whidbey Island.

Cetin, who had one prior arrest for assault last year, is due to appear in court today.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2016, with the headline 'Turkish-born suspect charged over deadly US mall shooting'. Print Edition | Subscribe