Arrest made in California serial killings while suspect was out ‘hunting’ for another victim, Stockton police say

Written by on October 15, 2022

STOCKTON, Calif. – An arrest has been made within the serial killings in central California, police mentioned Saturday, offering aid for a neighborhood dwelling in anxiousness as a gunman continued to kill for greater than a yr.

Stockton police mentioned they acquired suggestions from the neighborhood that led them to the suspect, Wesley Brownlee, 43. Investigators have been monitoring Brownlee’s actions and adopted him as he was driving round 2 a.m. Saturday. They “decided early this morning he was on a mission to kill. He was out looking,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden mentioned at a press briefing Saturday afternoon.

“We’re certain we stopped one other killing,” McFadden mentioned, including the suspect was sporting darkish clothes, a masks and was armed with a handgun. 

Police have linked seven shootings, six of which have been deadly, to the case utilizing ballistics and video proof. The assaults stemmed again to final yr.

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a press conference at the Stockton Police Department headquarters in downtown about the arrest of suspect Wesley Brownlee in the Stockton serial killings Stockton on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. Behind McFadden is a booking photo of Brownlee.

In April 2021, a person was fatally shot in Oakland. Days later, a 46-year-old girl was wounded in a taking pictures in Stockton. Then, greater than a yr later, extra taking pictures deaths have been reported. 5 killings in Stockton have been linked to the case, taking place between July Eight and Sept. 27 — all taking place inside a number of miles of one another.

The six deadly victims have been all males; one girl was additionally shot and survived, a key witness for authorities as they probed the case. A number of of the victims have been homeless.

The suspect was captured on video at a number of crime scenes however authorities have been mystified with none leads or suspects, inflicting native leaders to implore residents to be vigilant and keep away from being exterior alone late at evening.

McFadden mentioned Saturday that investigators have been aided by residents who offered suggestions and “old style police work.” After tipsters offered an individual of curiosity, officers began monitoring the suspect at his residence. Early Saturday morning, police adopted him as he left in a automobile. His habits appeared much like what investigators decided was a “sample” earlier than his earlier killings, McFadden mentioned. 

The suspect was driving “round parks, round darkish locations, stopping, trying round, shifting once more,” McFadden mentioned.

Authorities mentioned the suspect has a earlier prison document however didn’t elaborate. He was scheduled to be arraigned early subsequent week, when fees will probably be introduced, San Joaquin County District Lawyer Tori Verber Salazar mentioned.

Authorities didn’t present a motive within the slayings Saturday.

Stockton Chief of Police Stanley McFadden, right, gives safety information to a homeless woman at an encampment on Church Street in downtown Stockton.

Communities the place the killings occurred have been dwelling in worry whereas officers investigated the string of murders. Stockton police went door-to-door and canvassed homeless encampments to warn residents to take precautions, akin to touring with others and staying indoors when potential.

“Everybody’s in worry,” McFadden mentioned Thursday earlier than the arrest. “Do we have to pause our lives? No. However I believe we should be extra alert. I believe we have to have situational consciousness.”

The primary deadly sufferer believed to be linked, Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was shot a number of occasions in Oakland at about 4:15 a.m. on April 10, 2021.

The lady who was shot and survived mentioned she was in her tent on April 16, 2021 when in the course of the evening after three a.m., she heard somebody strolling round exterior. When she got here out of the tent, she was met with somebody holding a gun, who she mentioned fired a number of pictures, wounding her.

When she superior towards her attacker, who was sporting darkish garments, a hood and a protecting face masks, the suspect lowered the gun.

“She mentioned there have been no phrases talked about in any respect,” McFadden mentioned final week.

The San Joaquin County Workplace of the Medical Examiner recognized the Stockton victims as Paul Yaw, 35, who died July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, who died Aug. 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, who died Aug. 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who died Sept. 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, who died Sept. 27.

Not one of the victims have been robbed or crushed earlier than they have been shot, and police mentioned they did not appear to know one another. The assaults gave the impression to be ambushes, McFadden mentioned.

Whereas 5 of the seven males killed have been Latino, McFadden has mentioned the killings do not look like hate crimes.

Contributing: Aaron Leathley and Angelaydet Rocha, The Stockton File; The Related Press

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