Arcan Cetin in court in Mount Vernon last year. (Brandy Shreve / Skagit Valley Herald via AP, File)

Man accused of killing 5 at Burlington mall dies in jail

EVERETT — The man accused of shooting and killing five people at Cascade Mall in Burlington last year died Sunday in the Snohomish County Jail.

Arcan Cetin, 20, was being held in Everett while awaiting trial in Skagit County on multiple aggravated-murder charges. Aid crews were called to the jail about 6:50 p.m. Sunday.

Cetin is believed to have hanged himself, said Rosemary Kaholokula, Skagit County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor. The Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office is expected to conduct a death investigation along with the sheriff’s Major Crimes Unit.

That is standard procedure after a death in the jail, sheriff’s Lt. John Flood said. Details about Cetin’s custody placement were not provided Monday.

Local jail records show Cetin was moved here March 10. The move was requested by his attorneys, officials said.

Cetin had undergone a mental health evaluation at Western State Hospital. His attorneys requested a separate evaluation, Kaholokula said. It was not clear Monday whether that had occurred.

Cetin was due in court next week for a hearing to determine whether he was competent.

On Sept. 23, the Oak Harbor man allegedly carried a rifle into the mall and shot five people, including four with ties in Snohomish County. The shootings were captured on security cameras. No one else is facing charges in connection with the deaths.

The dead included Belinda Galde, 64, of Arlington. The longtime probation counselor was fatally shot along with her mom, Beatrice Dotson, 95. Boeing worker Wilton Charles “Chuck” Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens, was at the mall with his wife when the bullets found him. Shayla Martin, 52, was at her job in the cosmetics department in Macy’s when the gunman opened fire. The Mount Vernon woman was the sister of Karen Van Horn, a longtime employee of The Daily Herald. Van Horn on Monday declined comment.

Eagan’s family released a statement through Skagit County prosecutors.

“We’re understandably in shock over this development. Our heart goes out to Mr. Cetin’s family. We pray that the man repented to God before his death,” they wrote. “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. The family wishes to extend our continued thanks to those who responded to this tragedy, especially law enforcement and the Skagit County Prosecutor’s office for their steadfast professionalism and compassion. We are also grateful to all of those in the community whose love has helped see us through the past six months as we grieve and remember Chuck.”

Sunday’s death was the first at the jail since 2014, according to the sheriff’s office. The Everett lockup has begun to attract regional attention for successful efforts to make it a safer, more humane place. Gov. Jay Inslee visited in January and said the work could be a model for other communities in Washington.

When Sheriff Ty Trenary took over the jail in July 2013, one of his first priorities was addressing a string of inmate deaths. The sheriff consulted with outside experts, who encouraged him to dial back on bookings and to focus on improving the jail’s ability to monitor inmate health and safety. Despite some pushback, the sheriff began refusing to house people for nonviolent misdemeanors or whose medical conditions made it difficult to detain them safely.

The sheriff also has been a leader in efforts to redirect people living with mental illness from winding up behind bars. At the same time, jail staff have stepped up monitoring for those who are booked with addictions to opioids or alcohol. The jail is the county’s largest de facto detox center.

There were 13 jail deaths from 2010 through September 2014. While there were some suicides, most involved inmates with serious health problems, often linked to longtime abuse of drugs and alcohol, records show. The rate of jail deaths was consistent with those seen at similar-sized lockups around the country, according to a federal Department of Justice statistician.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @rikkiking.

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