Oak Harbor resident and accused Cascade Mall shooter Arcan Cetin was charged today.
Skagit County Prosecutor Richard Weyrich, however, hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue the death penalty for Cetin, 20, who allegedly shot and killed five people at the women’s Macy’s store on Sept. 23.
Cetin was charged with five counts of aggravated murder in the first degree. He had been held under a magistrate warrant in district court, but the case was formally transferred to superior court.
Prosecutors are alleging an aggravating factor that could mean the death penalty for Cetin if he is convicted; prosecutors would have to file a written notice of the special sentencing proceedings and a jury would have to find there is not sufficient mitigating circumstances to merit leniency.
The aggravating factor in the case is that “there was more than one victim and the murders were part of a common scheme or plan or the result of a single act of the person,” according to the RCW.
Cetin is accused of walking into the store with a Ruger 10-22 rifle and shooting five people. The victims were Sarai Lara, 16; Beatrice Dotson, 95, and Belinda Galde, 64, mother and daughter; Chuck Eagan, 61; and Shayla Martin, 52.
The Associated Press reported that Cetin first went into the nearby movie theater on the night of the shooting, leading to speculation that he intended to commit a shooting spree in the theater. He propped open an outside door with his cellphone, but an employee found it and later returned it to him.
Court documents suggest Cetin had an interest in beheadings by the Islamic State militant group and followed their activities in the news, according to the Associated Press.
Cetin was an Oak Harbor high school graduate; he and his mother moved from Turkey to the U.S. when he was 7 years old. He was arrested the day after the shooting a block from his Oak Harbor apartment.
Court documents show that Cetin had a history of mental health problems and misdemeanor assaults
Cetin is being represented by Skagit County defense attorney Wes Richards, who handled another high-profile mass murder case. Isaac Zamora killed six people in September 2008, including Skagit County Sheriff’s Deputy Anne Jackson, and injured several more in an Alger shooting spree.
Under the terms of a plea bargain in that case, Weyrich agreed not to seek the death penalty against Zamora. He pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree murder, but also pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to two counts.
Zamora first went to Western State Hospital, but was transferred in a prison in 2013 and will spend the rest of his life incarcerated.