Reuters International

Suspect Arcan Cetin appears for his arraignment on murder charges in the killing of five people in Mt. Vernon, Washington, U.S., September 26, 2016. REUTERS/Karen Ducey


By Tom James

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (Reuters) - A 20-year-old man was charged on Monday with five counts of first-degree murder after confessing to a shooting rampage at a mall in Burlington, Washington over the weekend, prosecutors said in court papers.

Turkish-born Arcan Cetin, a legal U.S. resident, was advised of the charges against him during a brief hearing in Skagit County District Court in Mount Vernon, Washington on Monday morning and ordered held on $2 million bail.

Skagit County District Attorney Richard Weyrich declined to discuss a motive for the shooting rampage. The FBI has said there was no indication the attack was an act of terrorism, but has not ruled out that possibility.

Wearing red and blue jail garb and shackled at the waist, Cetin showed no emotion and spoke only to respond "yes, your honour" several times to the judge.

According to charging documents, while being questioned by police investigators Cetin admitted bringing a Ruger .22 calibre rifle into the Macy's department store at Cascade Mall in Burlington on Friday evening and fatally shooting five people.

"It's a terrible, terrible thing and a terrible tragedy for the whole community," Weyrich told reporters following the hearing, adding prosecutors have yet to decide whether to seek the death penalty in the case.

The attack follows a series of violent outbursts at shopping centres across the United States, including the stabbing of nine people at one in Minnesota on Sept. 17. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it considers that attack a "potential act of terrorism."

Cetin was taken into custody without incident Saturday evening after police spotted him near his home in Oak Harbor, about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Burlington.

According to the charging documents, Cetin initially walked into the mall unarmed, through a Chuck E. Cheese family entertainment and pizza restaurant, then went back to his car to retrieve the rifle from his trunk, moving the car closer to Macy's.

Cetin walked into the Macy's shortly before 7 p.m. PDT (0200 GMT), gunning down a 16-year-old girl near a rack of clothing and then opening fire on the other four victims in the make-up department before placing the gun on a cosmetics counter and walking out, prosecutors say in the court papers.

According to prosecutors, Cetin's father told them that he and his son had had a falling out recently.

The father said he last saw his son at dinner at about 4:30 p.m. on the day of the shooting and that his rifle, which matched the description of the murder weapon, was missing along with ammunition.

(Adds dropped word the in sixth paragraph. No other changes to text)

(Reporting by Tom James; Writing by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Bill Trott and Alan Crosby)


 Reuters International