Suspected California serial killer arrested while ‘out hunting’ next victim, police claim

Click to play video: '‘Reign of terror is over’: Alleged serial killer of 6 captured in Stockton, Calif.'
‘Reign of terror is over’: Alleged serial killer of 6 captured in Stockton, Calif.
WATCH: Police in Stockton, Calif., have arrested a man they believe is responsible for the recent serial killings that claimed the lives of six people and had the city on edge. – Oct 16, 2022

Police arrested a man in connection with several homicides in Stockton, California, two weeks after residents were warned of a potential serial killer.

The city of Stockton has been on edge after six men were killed (and one woman was injured) in late-night shootings between April 2021 and September 2022.

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden revealed police arrested suspect Wesley Brownlee, a local resident, early Saturday morning. At a press conference that same day, McFadden said Brownlee, 43, was on “a mission to kill.”

Read more: California man charged in kidnapping, murder of family of 4, including 8-month-old

Police claim Brownlee was arrested as he drove around several of the city’s parks and poorly lit areas. They said he was dressed in dark clothing and wearing a mask around his neck, and was armed with a firearm.

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The firearm police claim was found on Wesley Brownlee, the suspected serial killer authorities allege is responsible for six murders in California. Stockton Police Department

Authorities had been surveilling Brownlee based on several tips from the public, McFadden claimed.

“He was out hunting,” McFadden said at the press conference. “We are sure we stopped another killing.”

All of the shooting victims had been attacked while alone in the evening or early hours of the morning, in dark areas. As of Saturday, the reward for any information regarding the suspected serial killer was US$125,000.

There have not yet been any formal charges against Brownlee. The Stockton Police Department claimed The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office will review the investigation and make the charges.

The motive for the shootings is not yet known.

Police claim the victims were not robbed after the attacks, and most of the victims were Hispanic men, according to McFadden.

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The first shooting occurred on April 10, 2021, when a man was killed in Oakland, more than 100 kilometres from Stockton.

On April 16, 2021, a 46-year-old Black woman was shot in Stockton but survived the attack. She told police her assailant held her at gunpoint in a campsite, where she was alone. The attacker did not speak but shot her multiple times as she tried to defend herself.

Read more: Sherri Papini sentenced for faking own kidnapping, misleading police for 4 years

The remaining five attacks occurred in Stockton between the months of July and September 2022, within a radius of a few square miles.

Image provided by the Stockton Police Department showing the locations of five fatal shootings that occurred between July and September 2022 that may have been carried out by a serial killer. Stockton Police Department/Facebook

On Sept. 30, the Stockton Police Department also released video footage of the suspect that they now claim is Brownlee.

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Click to play video: 'California authorities ask public for help amid search for suspected serial killer'
California authorities ask public for help amid search for suspected serial killer

The San Joaquin County medical examiner’s office released the names of some of the victims in early October: Paul Alexander Yaw, 35, who died on July 8 at 12:31 a.m.; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, who died on Aug. 11 at 9:49 p.m.; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, who died on Aug. 30 at 6:41 a.m.; Juan Cruz, 52, who died on Sept. 21 at 4:27 a.m.; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, who died on Sept. 27 at 1:53 a.m.

Read more: ‘I am evil’: Disturbing details revealed at trial for nurse accused of killing 7 babies

Despite there being no charges against Brownlee thus far, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said the crime was “solved because we’re Stocktonians.”

“You don’t come to our house and bring this kind of reign of terror and not mobilize 350,000 people — 780,000, this whole entire county — mobilized,” she said. “[They] mobilized and captured this individual whose reign of terror is no longer.”
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Brownlee is currently being held in jail without bail. He will appear in court on Tuesday.

— With files from Global News’ Kathryn Mannie 

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