On an evening ferry sailing to Anacortes on Sept. 23, passengers heard a disturbing message from the loudspeakers: “We have very sad news. There has been a shooting at the Cascade Mall in Burlington. If you have shopping, we urge you to not go to the mall, as the shooter is still at large.”
As reports of the tragedy appeared on Facebook posts, another disturbing trend appeared: islanders who had almost gone to the mall that night. One woman recounted her last minute decision to go home instead of purchasing a new mascara. Her physical proximity to this event sparked not only horror but a reflection of what is important in one’s life.
Government officials like Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, issued the following statement:
“My heart remains with all of those impacted by this unacceptable action, most of all the family and friends of those who were lost. Their loss is incomprehensible and unacceptable. Our first responders who unhesitatingly ran toward the threat deserve our gratitude and admiration, as do the heroic mall employees who helped guide customers to places of safety in such a frightening and dangerous time. It is always reassuring to see Washingtonians naturally and instinctively watch out for each other.”
Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, also released a statement: “It is with a heavy heart that I offer my thoughts and prayers to the friends and families of the five individuals who lost their lives in this horrific shooting.”
It is hard to wrap our minds around the violence that occurred that night. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that although we live in relative safety in the islands, the proximity of this event has left marks in our hearts and minds and our security feels more tenuous. I can only echo the words of so many others when I say, in the face of such violence, we must react with its counterpart: love. Take a minute to love your family, love your partners, love each breath you take because we just don’t know what the day might bring.
Update on the shooting
Arcan Cetin, 20, from Oak Harbor shot five people at Cascade Mall on Sept. 23. Four women were pronounced dead at the scene and one man was taken to the hospital with critical wounds and died Saturday morning.
Cetin emigrated from Turkey and is a legal permanent resident of the U.S., authorities said. Court documents state that he confessed to detectives. Cetin is from Oak Harbor and graduated from Oak Harbor High School in 2015. Acquaintances said Cetin had been working at the commissary at Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island. The Seattle Times reported that Skagit County court records showed three domestic violence charges for Cetin in both Burlington and Island County for violence against his stepfather. Cetin also was arrested previously for drunk driving, wrote the Seattle Times. Court records also showed Cetin was told he was not to possess a firearm by a judge on Dec. 29, the Seattle Times reported.
– Compiled from several news sources, such as CNN, the Seattle Times and the Associated Press.