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Accused Washington mall shooter wanted to buy gun before attack, dealer says

By Doug G. Ware
Accused Washington mall shooter wanted to buy gun before attack, dealer says
Arcan Cetin, 20, pictured here in a driver's license photo, was arrested Saturday for the shooting deaths of five people at a northwest Washington state mall on Sept. 23. He faces charges of first-degree murder and could spend life in prison if he's convicted. Photo courtesy Washington State Dept. of Licensing/Washington State Patrol

SKAGIT COUNTY, Wash., Sept. 29 (UPI) -- A man accused of staging a deadly shooting rampage at a northern Washington shopping mall last week wanted to buy a handgun just hours before the assault, but was denied, a firearms dealer said Thursday.

Arcan Cetin, a U.S. legal permanent resident from Turkey, was arrested late on Sept. 23 after five people were shot at the Cascade Mall in the town of Burlington -- about 65 miles north of Seattle.

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All five victims, which included a 16-year-old girl, died from their injuries. Authorities said the gunman used a .22-caliber rifle in the attack.

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A while before he went to the mall, Cetin allegedly inquired about buying a .45-caliber handgun at an Island County, Wash., gun shop but was turned away. The dealer, who identified herself as Dawn, said she wouldn't have sold the 20-year-old Cetin a gun because he was behaving strangely.

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"As soon as he came in the door, I decided we weren't going to sell him a gun," the Island County, Wash., store owner said Thursday.

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"It was just the feeling we got from him," she added, saying something was just "off" about the customer. "It was his demeanor."

Police officers and emergency medical personnel stand outside the Cascade Mall in Burlington, Wash., on Sept. 23 after a gunman shot five people inside the shopping center and fled on foot. The suspect, 20-year-old Arcan Cetin, was arrested the following day. Photo courtesy Sgt. Mark Francis/Washington State Patrol

The owner said Cetin entered her gun shop, which is located about 30 miles from the crime scene, less than two hours before the attack at the Cascade Mall began.

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The Washington State Patrol said it planned to examine the security video from the gun shop.

The store owner said the customer became mildly agitated when he learned he would have to undergo a background check to buy any weapon -- and then asked if he could bypass the check by purchasing one at a gun show. She said after she told him Washington law also mandates a background check at that venue, he left the store.

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Cetin would have been denied even if he had applied legally to buy a pistol, since court records say he cannot legally possess firearms. The Seattle Times also reported that a previous suicide attempt led to an involuntary psychiatric detention.

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The teenage victim, Sarai Lara, Chuck Eagan, Shayla Martin, Beatrice Dotson and Belinda Galde, were each shot in a Macy's department store at the mall. Police believe Cetin got the rifle used in the attack from his father.

Cetin faces five charges of first-degree murder and is being held on $2 million bail.

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