Herald staff and news services
BURLINGTON — Officials said Sunday that they do not plan to release until Monday the names of five people fatally shot Friday at the Cascade Mall here, but their identities began to emerge over the weekend from family members and friends. They include people with connections to Snohomish County.
One of the victims is Belinda Galde, a probation officer who has worked for Snohomish County District Court since 1989. In a statement, the court said 64-year-old Galde “was an amazingly kind and caring individual” who helped thousands of probationers find a better way to live.
The Seattle Times reported that one of the victims is a 16-year-old girl. Sarai Lara’s mother said she had survived cancer as a young girl and was a happy sophomore student at Mount Vernon High School.
Evangelina Lara told the newspaper through a translator that she was shopping Friday night at the Cascade Mall in Burlington with Sarai and her younger sister, but they split up.
A 20-year-old man was taken into custody late Saturday. Authorities identified the suspect as Arcan Cetin of Oak Harbor. He was expected to appear in court on Monday.
Earlier Saturday, during the manhunt for him, an Everett woman sought word on the fate of her sister.
Karen Van Horn on Saturday said her younger sister, Shayla Martin, was working at her job in the cosmetics department when the firing began.
Martin, 52, did not return to her Mount Vernon home Friday night. Van Horn said her family has heard from a witness to the shootings that her sister was among the dead.
While there was no official confirmation by Saturday afternoon, Van Horn said she’s certain her sister is gone.
“I would have heard something,” said Van Horn, a longtime employee of The Daily Herald.
She headed to Skagit County from Everett to be with Martin’s boyfriend and others keeping vigil.
“She was so sweet,” Van Horn said of her sister. “She was just very independent. She wanted to make her own way. She didn’t want to rely on anyone else.”
When her sister was young she loved gymnastics and dance. As a teen she worked at restaurants her parents operated in Mount Vernon and Everett. She was an avid reader, regularly devouring two or three books a week. She also had a practical streak.
“She liked the finer things in life and it didn’t always fit her pocketbook,” Van Horn said. “She made things work. She wasn’t above going to Value Village. She was very classy.”
Van Horn said she learned that something was wrong Friday night when she was contacted by a niece who had heard about the shootings and was worried because she couldn’t reach Martin. Van Horn said she’d called her sister earlier and wasn’t initially worried when she didn’t hear back.
Then she saw coverage of the shootings on television.
The first 911 call came in just before 7 p.m.: A man with a rifle was shooting at people in department store.
By the time police arrived moments later, the carnage at the makeup counter was complete. Four people were dead and the shooter was gone, last seen walking toward nearby I-5. A fifth victim, a man, died in the early morning hours Saturday as police finished sweeping the 434,000-square-foot building.
“There are people waking up this morning and their world has changed forever. The city of Burlington has probably changed forever, but I don’t think our way of life needs to change,” Burlington Mayor Steve Sexton said Saturday at a news conference. “This was a senseless act. It was the world knocking on our doorstep and it came into our little community.”
Hayley Thompson, the Skagit County coroner, said the victims would be identified only after she examines their bodies at the hospital. County officials on Sunday tweeted that names would be released on Monday.
“Probably one of the most difficult moments for us last night was knowing that there were family members wondering about their loved ones in there,” Mount Vernon police Lt. Chris Cammock said.
As the small city absorbed the tragic news, critical questions remained, including the shooter’s motive.
The FBI said terrorism was not suspected.
Surveillance video captured the gunman entering the mall unarmed and then recorded him about 10 minutes later entering the Macy’s with a “hunting type” rifle in his hand, Cammock said.
Police earlier offered a description of the shooter, saying he was possibly Hispanic because of a dark complexion. But there was nothing else to inform that very general description, Cammock said, and he could be of any ethnicity.
Authorities did not say how the suspect may have obtained the weapon — whether he retrieved it from outside or picked it up in the mall — but they believe he acted alone. The rifle was recovered at the scene.
As the shots rang out, shoppers hid in dressing rooms and bathrooms and made hushed, terrified phone calls to relatives. One woman started running with her 4-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter only to slip and fall — and then watch as the shooter strode past her terrified children, KIRO-TV reported.
“We have never been so scared in our lives,” the woman texted the station.
Joanne Burkholder, 19, of nearby Mount Vernon, was watching the movie “The Magnificent Seven” in the mall’s theater when security guards told them to evacuate. Dozens of panicked moviegoers gathered in the hallway, and Burkholder heard screaming as the officers escorted them to safety in a parking lot.
“I’m just very thankful for my life this morning. I’ve never been so terrified in my life,” she said Saturday, trying to hold back tears as she attended a community vigil.
“You’d think it would happen in Everett or Seattle, but a small town of Burlington, I’d never dream something like this would happen.”
Burlington residents gathered at a local park to pray and honor the victims. The Rev. Ron Deegan, who said that he and his wife were at the movies when the shooting occurred, was among them.
Five minutes into the film, police stepped in and ushered everyone out of the theater, said Deegan, who serves as a pastor at three local churches. The granddaughter of a member of one of those churches was working at a beauty salon in the mall.
Workers there herded customers into a restroom when the shooting started. “Looking beneath the door, they said they saw male shoes go by and they held their breath,” Deegan said. When police arrived to let them out, several patrons fled with rollers and other products in their hair.
Burlington, a community of 8,600 people, is too far from Seattle to be a commuter town, but its population swells to 55,000 during the day because of a popular outlet mall, retail stores and other businesses. It is the only major retail center within 30 miles in a region where agriculture is king, said Linda Jones, president of the Burlington Chamber of Commerce.
Emergency management officials started to allow some people to retrieve their vehicles Saturday, though the mall was to be shuttered through Monday morning.
Dozens of people attended a Saturday evening prayer service for the victims. The gathering was held at Central United Methodist Church in nearby Sedro-Woolley.
The Rev. Cody Natland lit five candles on a table in front of the church, one for each victim.
Contributors: Herald writer Scott North, The Associated Press and The Washington Post.