Island County Sheriff Mark Brown. photo from

Many people who have made the decision to carry concealed feel the have to do so all the time. Why? Because they never know when they might find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time—and they don’t want to reach for their hip when they have to defend themselves or others and feel nothing but a bare belt.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown now knows that terrible feeling. He was playing a game on his phone in the Burlington Cascade Mall in Washington on September 23 when he heard a series of pops.

According to this story from, Brown was in the middle of a shooting that would claim the lives of five people. But Brown wasn’t carrying that day, and found himself just as helpless as anyone else in the mall. It’s the policy of his Sheriff’s department not to carry while outside of the county and off duty.

“The expectation people have on police officers in these situations is that they’re immediately going to solve the situation and not having the ability to do that is certainly frustrating,” Brown said in the story. “When I realized the clerk was moving through, I reached for my hip and realized the situation I was in.”

Brown did all he could—he grabbed his wife, Kathi, and got her and as many people as they could out of the mall. The couple ran into the parking lot where Kathi tried to call 911, only to get busy lines. Brown talked to people coming out of the mall, looking out for suspects, the story says.

Police arrived minutes later and Brown directed them inside, the story says. They, along with other witnesses, were directed to go home.

Arcan Cetin was charged with five counts of murder after walking into the Macy’s department store and shooting victims at random.

“It’s an awkward situation. I (sic) hindsight I wish that I had been armed and proactively done something in approaching the direction where the shots were fired.”

From the story:

“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.”