UPDATE: Suspected Stockton Serial Killer Arrested
Since April 2021, six men were fatally shot and one woman was shot and wounded in central California.
After receiving multiple tips from the community, police began surveilling a person of interest in mid October, which led to the arrest of 43-year-old Stockton truck driver Wesley Brownlee.
Police arrested Brownlee on Oct. 15 after they "watched his patterns" and determined "he was on a mission to kill."
PEOPLE reported that the arrest happened near a city park where police believed the suspect was about to strike again.
"He was out looking for a person to attack," police department spokesperson Joseph Silva said. "After he zeroed in on the man, we had to make a split-second decision to arrest him. We believe we prevented another homicide."
Brownlee has been charged with the murders of Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, Juan Carranza-Cruz, and Lawrence Lopez.
ORIGINAL POST 10/6/22:
Is There A Serial Killer In Stockton, California? Here’s What We Know So Far
In what appears to be the work of a serial killer, six men have been fatally shot and one woman was shot and wounded in central California. Video footage and ballistics test evidence linked the shootings, and all but one of the shootings took place in Stockton, California. The other took place approximately 70 miles away in Oakland.
“We don’t know what the motive is. What we do believe is that it’s mission oriented. This person is on a mission,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference on Oct. 4, 2022.
The first known shooting in the crime spree dates to April 2021. In the first shooting, on April 10, 2021, at 4:18 a.m., 39-year-old Juan Vasquez Serrano was shot and murdered in Oakland, according to NBC News. Then, on April 16, 2021 at 3:20 a.m., a 46-year-old woman was shot multiple times in Stockton, reported KCRA. She survived and is the only known survivor in this series of otherwise fatal shootings.
"These incidents are occurring in the hours of darkness, these incidents are occurring where folks are alone by themselves, not in lit areas," McFadden said. Also, although most of the victims are Hispanic, the police have not classified these shootings as a hate crime.
After more than a year passed, five new killings took place between July 8 and Sept. 27 of 2022, and all these deadly shootings happened within a radius of a few square miles.
“It wasn’t a robbery. Items aren’t being stolen. They’re not talking about any gang activity in the area or anything. It’s just [an] element of surprise,” McFadden explained.
The 2022 victims of the serial killer were identified, reported NBC News. Paul Alexander Yaw (35) died on July 8. Salvador William Debudey, Jr. (43) died on August 11. Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez (21) died on August 30. Juan Cruz (52) died on Sept. 21. Lawrence Lopez, Sr. (54) died on Sept. 27.
The shooter was described by the surviving victim as being between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet tall. He had on a COVID-19-style face mask and all dark clothing. He didn’t speak to the victim before shooting her.
Stockton police told ABC News that none of the shootings were related to drugs or gangs and none of the victims were robbed. They were, however, all ambushed.
Police are currently hoping to speak to a person of interest who appears in more than one surveillance video. According to NBC News, the unidentified person might be a suspect or a witness, and other people might be involved in the serial killings.
“To the people of Stockton, we're not gonna stand in fear. We're not gonna be fearful. We're not gonna retreat,” Stockton mayor Kevin Lincoln told KCRA 3. He expressed a hope that people would be empowered to come forward with information on the killings.
A reward of $125,000 is being offered to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest in the case.