The initial target of the Cascade Mall shooting may have been an AMC Loews theater instead of Macy’s, according to police documents.
Police detectives reviewed surveillance footage from AMC Loews that showed suspect Arcan Cetin, 20, took particular interest with one theater inside the megaplex about 30 minutes before the Macy’s shooting happened next door. Detectives concluded that this theater may have been the intended target of the shooting, but the plan was thwarted by a theater employee.
Cetin was arrested for gunning down five people in the Burlington Macy’s September 23.
According to surveillance footage, Cetin arrived at the theater at 6:13 p.m. and bought a movie ticket to Snowden at 6:22 p.m. Witnesses told investigators that Cetin loitered outside the theater prior to purchasing a ticket.
Snowden was scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m., although Cetin never entered theater No. 14, the movie’s assigned theater.
Security footage showed Cetin entering and exiting theater No. 11 several times, which was playing The Magnificent Seven, and was scheduled to end about 6:27 p.m. An AMC Loews manager told detectives that 32 people bought tickets to The Magnificent Seven that night.
Cetin came out of No. 11 at 6:24 p.m., walked to the exit doors, looked at them, and then walked back into No. 11.
Four seconds later, Cetin left No. 11 walked to the exit doors and knelt. Detectives said Cetin was likely placing his cell phone in the door, although footage doesn’t capture what he’s doing with his hands. Then Cetin left AMC Loews.
The Magnificent Seven ended at 6:28 p.m., and the first group of people left No. 11 and exited. Former employee Jacob Dodds discovered a cell phone wedged in the exit doors and handed it over to guest services. Dodds told detectives that as he approached the door he saw what appeared to be an iPhone on the ground blocking the closure of the door. He said he didn’t know if it had been dropped or placed intentionally.
“Placing a cell phone at the base of these exit doors would allow someone from outside to enter with ease because the door never fully shuts,” Detective Adrian Kuschereit wrote in police documents.
At 6:30 p.m. Cetin reentered AMC Loews and was seen walking down the hallway outside theater No. 11 behind the last group of people to leave. Cameras then captured Cetin retrieving his cell phone from guest services.
At 6:31 p.m., Cetin entered theater No. 11, which should be empty now, for a final time. Six seconds later he exited the AMC Loews.
“Cetin appears to have been checking room #11 with particular interest,” Kuschereit wrote. “…This theater room and the people inside of it may have been a planned target for the shooting and that his plan was interrupted by Jacob Dodds removing his cell phone from the exit doors.”
Dodds said he was grateful that he could stop a tragedy from happening at the theater, but that gratitude is overshadowed by what happened at Macy's later that night.
"I just wish no lives had been lost that day," Dodds said.