A suspected gunman was arrested over the weekend in a Friday night shooting that left five shoppers at a Burlington, Wash., mall dead. Burlington is about an hour north of Seattle.
The victims range in age from a 16-year-old cancer survivor to a 95-year-old woman who was shot and killed along with her 64-year-old daughter. The suspect is a 20-year-old man with troubled past.
He was arrested while walking near his apartment, a day after he opened fire with a rifle at a Macy's department store. Police have yet to announce a motive for the killings.
Tips from the public lead police to the suspect. One of the tips came from the man's stepfather. Police also used surveillance video of the suspect walking to a vehicle in the mall parking lot to find him.
The victim had previously faced domestic-violence assault charges for an attack on his stepfather. He also struggled with substance abuse and mental-health issues and was ordered by a judge not to possess a gun. However, the shooting suspect was given a deferred prosecution in the earlier case, meaning the charges would be dismissed if he remained in compliance with the court orders to see a counselor and pay his fines.
Former high school classmates described the suspect as awkward, vulgar and inappropriate, groping female students and harassing other classmates.
The suspect could be charged with murder in the first degree for each of the five deaths under the Revised Code of Washington, if it is believed he acted with premeditation, meaning he planned the killings and was not simply acting in the moment.
In addition to causing the death of a person with premeditated intent, a person also is guilty of murder in the first degree when he or she shows extreme indifference to life and engages in conduct that creates grave risk and kills someone.
A person who commits or attempts to commit another crime, such as: robbery in the first or second degree, rape in the first or second degree, burglary in the first degree, arson in the first or second degree, or kidnapping in the first or second degree, and causes someone's death, may also be charged with murder in the first degree which is a Class A felony, punishable by life in prison.
The primary difference between first-degree murder and murder in the second degree is premeditation. If the person intended to kill someone, but without premeditation, it is second-degree murder. Nevertheless, it is still a Class A felony.
Regardless of the circumstances, everyone charged with a crime is entitled to a good defense. If you are facing criminal charges, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.