Suspect arrested in Stockton serial killings
A suspect has been arrested in Stockton in connection with a series of fatal shootings, authorities announced Saturday.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested at 2 a.m. Saturday on suspicion of homicide in connection with six fatal shootings in Oakland and Stockton, which began last year and continued through last month, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference. Five of the killings occurred in Stockton, all this year.
Brownlee was “out hunting” for more victims at the time of his arrest, police said.
“The arrest happened in two parts,” McFadden said Saturday. “One was community tips and the second one was old-fashioned police work.”
Through tips, investigators “zeroed in” on a suspect and began surveilling him.
“We watched his patterns and determined early this morning, he was on a mission to kill,” McFadden said. “He was out hunting.”
Brownlee was stopped and arrested on the north side of Stockton, where most of the killings occurred. He was allegedly armed and wearing dark clothing and a mask around his neck at the time of his arrest. A search warrant was also conducted at Brownlee’s Stockton residence.
“We are sure we stopped another killing,” McFadden said.
Charges against Brownlee are pending, but he is expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
“My deputy district attorneys, who have been here all night, are reviewing the evidence as we speak,” San Joaquin County Dist. Atty. Tori Verber Salazar said Saturday.
“I’m no longer ever going to say his name again because he doesn’t deserve to have a name,” Verber Salazar said. “He doesn’t deserve to be out there. So ‘the defendant’ is what we’re going to call him from now on.”
“Stockton will be a place where people can live, raise a family and grow a business,” said Mayor Kevin Lincoln. “This is a beautiful city. This is a city that each and every one of us calls home, and we will not tolerate any acts of senseless violence.”
Police first notified the public of the killings late last month, saying that the five Stockton shootings were “connected.”
A week later, police announced that additional shootings in 2021, including a fatal one in Oakland, were also linked. A woman in her 40s was shot multiple times in Stockton last year but survived.
“We do believe we could have a potential serial killer,” McFadden told reporters at a news conference earlier this month.
The Stockton victims were identified as:
- 35-year-old Paul Alexander Yaw, killed July 8 in the 5600 block of Kermit Lane.
- 43-year-old Salvador Debudey Jr., killed Aug. 11 in the 4900 block of West Lane.
- 21-year-old Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, killed Aug. 30 in the 800 block of East Hammer Lane.
- 52-year-old Juan Cruz, killed Sept. 21 in the 4400 block of Manchester Avenue.
- 54-year-old Lawrence Lopez Sr., killed Sept. 27 in the 900 block of Porter Avenue.
Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, 39, was killed in Oakland in 2021.
The killings gripped the Stockton community, including its homeless population; four of the seven victims were homeless, police said.
“It’s scary for sure,” said Danielle Richae, who has been unhoused for a year.
On Tuesday morning, Richae stood near the San Joaquin River waterfront in downtown Stockton, alongside a man who identified himself only as Javier.
“It’s made me more cautious,” Javier said, adding that he and Richae had tried to sleep in places that could provide some protection or barrier. They did not want to be sneaked up on.
“I’m afraid for her,” Javier said.
“It’s like anything that is sinister, it eats at you a little bit at a time,” said Stephen Bentley, a deacon with St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Stockton who provides resources for homeless residents. “It begins to create a different type of fear. It’s deep set.”
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