Gun massacre at Washington mall just the most recent example of video game fantasies come to bloody fruition
Five Dead in Washington: Yet Another Call of Duty Mass Murder?
by Michael Gillespie
September 25, 2016
Arcan Cetin, a suspect in the Cascade Mall murders and a 20-year old devotee of Call of Duty and other hyper-violent first-person-shooter video games, was arrested in Oak Harbor, Washington, by Lt. Mike Hawley of the Island County Sheriff's Office on Saturday afternoon.
According to an on-line report here, the suspect "Cetin is an active Call of Duty player, even posting videos of himself playing the game to his YouTube channel."
Authorities say they have been unable to find any connection between Cetin and those he is suspected of murdering.
News reports say Cetin will be charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
On Friday night, a young man initially described as an Hispanic male fatally shot four women and a man at the cosmetics counter of the Macy's department store at Cascade Mall in Burlington, Washington. Mall surveillance cameras captured images of the armed gunman. Cetin is a Turkish immigrant.
When apprehended without resistance about 20 hours later while walking in an Oak Harbor neighborhood, Cetin was unarmed and had in his possession a leather satchel containing a notebook computer. Hawley described Cetin as "kind of zombie-like" at the time of his capture.
The youngest of the five gun massacre victims, Sarai Lara, was a 16-year old student who had survived cancer as a child. The oldest was Beatrice Dotson, 95, who was shopping with her daughter, Belinda, Galde, 64, a probation officer who was also killed by the shooter. Shayla Martin, 52, worked as a make-up artist at Macy's. Chuck Eagan, age unavailable, a Boeing maintenance worker nearing retirement, was shot as he stopped to help his wife who fell as they attempted to flee.
Mayor Steve Sexton of Burlington had vowed help "extend the long arm of the law, to help bring this son of a b**** to justice that did this to our community."
The mass murder of four women and a man at a Macy's cosmetics counter in a Washington mall is reminiscent of the crimes committed by Elliott Rodger, 22, in Isla Vista, CA, in 2014. The son of a Hollywood movie director, Rodger murdered six and wounded 14. The scenes of Rodger's rampage included a sorority house where he shot three women killing two of them. Rodger shot himself dead after a police chase and car crash. Prior to the shooting, he had uploaded a YouTube video "in which he outlined details of his upcoming attack and his motives. He said he wanted to punish women for rejecting him and to punish sexually-active men for living a more enjoyable life than his." In a rambling manifesto, Rodger detailed his long addiction to video games and his anger at girls and women with whom he had been unable to establish relationships, due in part no doubt to his addiction to hyper-violent first-person-shooter video games.
Habituation to violent media product and hyper-violent video games in particular has long been identified as a common factor among young gun massacre murderers. Video game corporations actively lobby government to prevent the establishment of any meaningful legal restrictions on their socially-destabilizing products, which gun massacre murderers routinely use as training aids in preparation for their deadly rampages.
The suspect in the Cascade Mall gun massacre is but the latest in a long line ofCall of Duty addicts who have acted out hyper-violent video game fantasies in public places with deadly results. As early as 2012, Call of Duty, had been reported by news organizations to have been used for training by at least three mass murders. Mohamed Merah, who shot dead seven people in France in March 2012; Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people in Norway in August 2012; and Adam Lanza, who gunned down 20 first-graders and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT in December 2012, all trained for their killing sprees using Call of Duty series video games. Friends identified Aaron Alexis as a first-person-shooter video game addict. Alexis, who shot dead 13 at the Washington Navy Yard, a controlled-access government facility, in 2013, was an avid Call of Duty user. Dylann Roof, now on trial for the murder of nine parishioners during a Bible Study/prayer service at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC in 2015, was habituated to violent video games.
Hyper-violent video games have been identified as problematic by interested parties as diverse as the mothers of young boys addicted to the games and the National Security Agency, which, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden, viewed them as a cyber-espionage threat as early as 2007.
However appealing the urge to "bring this son of a b**** to justice that did this to our community," as experienced and voiced by Mayor Sexton, it seems abundantly clear that America's epidemic of gun massacre murders will continue unabated until legislators and law enforcement officials discover the will to rein in the entertainment industry corporations that prey on young, naive, and vulnerable audiences for profit and for narrow political advantage.
Michael Gillespie writes regularly for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. A 1999 graduate of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Iowa State University, he was inducted a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, the national honor society of journalism and mass communications. He has previously worked in radio as a reporter at WUOT-fm, the University of Tennesee at Knoxville NPR affiliate station, and as project director for community radio station WDVX-fm. His reportage has been broadcast internationally by Swiss Radio International. He co-founded the Knoxville (TN) Writers Guild in 1993, served as Executive Director of the Tennessee Writers Alliance (1995), and as vice-chair and chair of the Ames (IA) Interfaith Council (2003-2006).