Sheriff Was In Mall During Mass Shooting, Without A Gun

Photo Courtesy:  KOMO

Island County (WA) Sheriff Mark Brown was playing a game on his phone on Sept. 23 and relaxing after a drink and dinner. His wife was shopping at the Macy’s in Burlington’s Cascade Mall.

Then Brown heard a series of pops. And a clerk ran by telling people to leave the store.

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A mass shooting that would kill five people was taking place.

Brown was without a gun.

“When I realized the clerk was moving through, I reached for my hip and realized the situation I was in.”

He didn’t have a gun or know who was shooting. But Brown grabbed his wife, Kathi. He did have a plan.

The couple ran into the parking lot. Kathi tried to call 911, but the lines were busy. Sheriff Brown talked to people coming out of the mall and kept an eye out for anyone suspicious.

Within minutes, police arrived, and Brown directed them inside. An officer eventually told the couple and other people who weren’t eyewitnesses to go home.

Arcan Cetin is accused of walking into the Macy’s that night and picking off victims, who ranged in age from 16 to 95. He has been charged with five counts of murder.

Since that night, Sheriff Brown has replayed what happened and questioned if he should have done something different.

He says he was embarrassed after the shootings that he wasn’t armed. But now after talking to fellow officers, he stands by his decision not to carry a gun while out of Island County and off duty.

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4 Comments

  1. David Doncaster

    I would like to paraphrase retired Lt. Colonel David Grossman here. The
    average person will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid the aggressive,
    irrational behaviour of their fellow man. In my many years as a use of force
    instructor, above and beyond my 34 years as a police officer, I have been
    witness to many situations and party to many discussions where people (nice,
    decent folks) will rationalize, minimize and defer the need for their
    involvement in violent encounters. It is that part of human nature that keeps
    the human race from destroying itself over a weekend with all the biological,
    chemical and nuclear weapons available.

    I have seen policies related to use of force created and directives given by
    law enforcement agency managers that defy logic. I have watched police officers
    in the field actually jump between me and an armed subject to stop me from
    shooting them because they have either misread the situation or simply had no
    idea what to do. I have been ordered by superiors not to return fire while
    under fire for what I can only surmise was their personal fear that they would
    have to answer for me or my teammates use of force. Regardless of the imminent
    and real danger we were. I have participated in the arming of entire law
    enforcement agencies that had been unarmed for decades because administrators
    refused to acknowledge the jeopardy of the front line officers. A dangerous
    aspect of human nature when all powerful decision makers are poorly informed or
    unskilled in use of force encounters.

    I think every officer should be able to honestly say to themselves “I wish I
    had been there that day with my weapon”.
    If not, it is not necessarily a character flaw but likely a lack of
    understanding with regards to use of force encounters. There is a need for more
    operant and conditional training. More stress inoculation via scenario based
    training. This is how to take good decent people and turn them into effective officers
    in the highly contentious world of policing.

    I am saddened that he spoke to other officers who echoed his rationalization
    for not carrying a weapon off duty, unless of course it is against dept. policy
    as it is up here in much of Canada. In that case, it is an administration
    problem that perpetrates a failure in public service.

    I hope Sheriff Brown eventually runs into a trainer who can help him expand
    his understanding of use of force encounters and lead him to develop the hard
    charging mindset of the front line street cop.

    To steal another expression “To us and those like us, damn few”.

  2. daman

    “he stands by his decision to not carry a gun off duty”. Wonder how he would feel if his wife was one of the ones that was shot. Sheep.

    • guns2317

      agreed. If you are not willing to be prepared to defend yourself and your loved ones while off duty then perhaps you should find another line of work.

      • Timothy Walters

        If there is any chance that an off duty officer is going to consume alcohol there is zero reason for him to carry his weapon. The article says he had a drink, if it was alcohol he did the right thing. In my experience I know several officers that have been in trouble carrying a gun off duty while out having drinks and none that helped anyone. In the past when I drank I left my weapon at home and will defend that decision. I have chosen to give up alcohol so I can feel comfortable carrying a weapon at all times. That’s a sacrifice I made but do not expect everyone else to make the same one. In this time Law Enforcement is being attacked any alcohol consumed prior to an off duty shooting will be a factor in sending you to prison regardless if the alcohol effected your judgment.

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