A controversy began brewing Friday night when Mount Vernon police described the suspect in the Cascade Mall shooting as a Hispanic male in his late teens to mid-20s with a close-shaved haircut.

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A controversy began brewing Friday night when Mount Vernon police described the suspect in the Cascade Mall shooting as a Hispanic male in his late teens to mid-20s with a close-shaved haircut.

By Saturday night, when police arrested Turkish immigrant Arcan Cetin in connection with the crime, it had reached a full boil on Twitter.

Some observers were angry that police had wrongly put out the word to look for someone who was Hispanic and that many media outlets — including The Seattle Times — repeated the description.

Laura Martínez tweeted, “BREAKING: Cable networks realize ‘brown mall shooting suspect’ is not Hispanic after all.”

Cascade Mall shooting

Others suggested that officials and the media were trying to cover up the possibility of terrorism inspired by or sympathetic to ISIS.

Some questioned how describing a suspect as “Hispanic” could be meaningful, when it’s a linguistic, rather than racial, distinction.

More than 15 percent of the population of Skagit County describes itself as Latino or Hispanic.

Most major news outlets, including The Seattle Times, mention race or ethnicity in relation to crimes only if the crime is considered racially motivated or if an armed, dangerous suspect is on the loose.

When journalists asked at a Saturday press conference why authorities believed the gunman might be Hispanic, Mount Vernon Police Lt. Chris Cammock said the description was based on the surveillance photos and the man’s dark hair. He acknowledged “photos aren’t exact replicas.” Asked again Saturday evening, officials said they simply were repeating what witnesses told them.