Arcan Cetin was accused of opening fire with a Ruger .22-caliber rifle on Sept. 23, 2016, killing five people. He was found unresponsive in his Snohomish County Jail cell on Sunday night, dead from an apparent suicide.
More than a month ago, Arcan Cetin — the man accused of killing five people at the Cascade Mall in September — was moved from the Skagit County Jail to the lockup in Snohomish County at the request of his public defenders, according to a Skagit County spokeswoman.
The reason: Cetin had made legally compromising comments about his criminal case to fellow inmates, setting up the potential for a huge conflict of interest for his defense attorneys, said Bronlea Mishler, the county’s communications coordinator.
Many of those other inmates are also represented by the Skagit County Public Defender’s Office and potentially could have been called as state witnesses during Cetin’s trial on five counts of aggravated first-degree murder, Mishler said.
The transfer occurred on March 10.
Just before 7 p.m. Sunday, Cetin was found dead in his jail cell from an apparent suicide, according to Skagit County prosecutors. The 20-year-old, who has not been officially identified by the Snohomish County Medical Examiner’s Office, is believed to have hanged himself, according to prosecutors.
A phone call to defense attorney Wes Richards was not returned Monday.
Cetin is accused of opening fire in the Burlington mall’s Macy’s department store on Sept. 23. Four of the victims were killed outright, and the fifth was mortally wounded.
According to charges filed in January, Cetin used a Ruger .22-caliber rifle with a 25-round magazine. The shooting was captured on surveillance video.
Killed were Sarai Lara, 16, of Mount Vernon; Shayla Martin, 52, of Mount Vernon; Belinda Galde, 64, and her mother, 95-year-old Beatrice Dotson, both of Arlington; and Wilton “Chuck” Eagan, 61, of Lake Stevens.
According to court documents, Cetin told detectives that he had committed the killings.
A spokesman for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, which oversees jail operations, referred all questions about Cetin’s death to Skagit County prosecutors.
On Monday afternoon, the sheriff’s office issued a brief news release indicating the death of a 20-year-old inmate is being investigated by detectives assigned to the department’s Major Crimes Unit. The release does not identify Cetin by name.
Rosemary Kaholokula, Skagit County’s chief criminal deputy prosecutor, confirmed that Cetin died Sunday night but she didn’t know where Cetin had been housed in the jail. She also didn’t know whether he was on suicide watch, how often he was checked by jail staff, or what he used to hang himself.
Kaholokula acknowledged that Skagit County’s jail is…