Arcan Cetin, the man charged with killing five people at a shopping mall in Burlington last September, was found dead in his jail cell in an apparent suicide, authorities said Monday.
Cetin, 20, was discovered hanging Sunday evening, said Rosemary Kaholokula, chief criminal deputy prosecutor for Skagit County.
He was being held in neighboring Snohomish County, where he was awaiting the results of a mental competency evaluation.
The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which runs the jail, said in a news release Monday that a 20-year-old inmate had been found unresponsive, and that efforts to revive the prisoner failed. The death is under investigation, the statement said.
Sunday’s death was the first at the jail since 2014, according to the sheriff’s office, though there were 13 jail deaths from 2010 through September 2014. While some of those were suicides, most involved inmates with serious health problems, often linked to longtime abuse of drugs and alcohol, the Herald in Everett reported.
Investigators say Cetin shot a teenage girl, a man and three women in a Macy’s department store at Cascade Mall in Burlington, on Sept. 23, 2016. The shootings were captured on surveillance video.
Authorities captured him about 30 hours later near his apartment and said he confessed to the killings during police interviews, but did not explain why he did it.
The victims were Sarai Lara, 16, and Shayla Martin, 52, both of Mount Vernon; Chuck Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens; Belinda Galde, 64, of Arlington; and Galde’s mother, Beatrice Dotson, 95, of Kingsport, Tennessee.
Eagan’s family said in a written statement they were shocked by Cetin’s death.
“We pray that the man repented to God before his death,” the statement said. “While this event puts to rest our fear of his release, we harbor no ill will towards Mr. Cetin or his family and pray for their comfort as we know all too well the pain of grief.”
Cetin had been charged with five counts of aggravated murder, which can bring the death penalty, but he had not entered pleas pending mental evaluations. His attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Cetin had a history of violent behavior toward his family and ex-girlfriend. His stepfather, David Marshall, said the family had been trying to get Cetin help for mental health issues.
According to police reports, Cetin had told his ex-girlfriend that his father was connected to “bad people in Turkey.” Asked during interviews whether his Turkish relatives had ties to terrorist groups, Cetin said no. He also said he didn’t have any contact with those relatives.
He said he had watched beheadings by the Islamic State group online but considered such terrorist actions wrong.
Asked if ISIS had inspired the mall killings, Cetin responded, “I can’t answer that,” police wrote.