By: Aliya Koshalieva
The citizens of Stockton, California, are on edge following a string of fatal shootings. An unknown assailant committed seven murders, killing five people between April 2021 and October 2022.
Although the motive and identity of this serial killer remain unknown, some of the killings share similar factors. All the shootings happened late at night or very early in the morning in dark areas or neighborhoods, and primarily targeting lone individuals. Six of the seven shootings happened in Stockton. Among the victims, five were Hispanic, one Black, and one White. All of the victims were men except for one.
The first shooting happened on Apr. 10, 2021, at 4:18 AM, killing 40-year-old Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano. Although this occurred in Oakland, law enforcement later linked this to the Stockton shootings. Six days later, the unknown gunman shot Natasha LaTour ten times at around 3:00 AM. LaTour survived by running at the shooter. Although she described the killer, she says the police ignored her and dismissed her claims. LaTour said, “they basically treated me as if it was a drug deal gone bad… I don’t know if they believed it or not, but what I do know — and what’s been made very apparent — is that they just didn’t care.” She described the killer as a skinny 6-foot tall man wearing dark clothing and a COVID-style face mask; “He looked like the Unabomber, without the glasses.”
The same killer fatally shot Paul Yaw of Stockton a year later, on Jul. 8, 2022, at 12:31 AM. A month later, Salvador Debudey Jr. of Stockton was shot and killed on Aug. 11. On Aug. 30, 2022, Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez was fatally shot in Stockton. Juan Cruz and Lawrence Lopez Sr. were shot and killed on Sept. 21, 2022 and Sept. 27, 2022 respectively.
The Stockton Police, along with the help of the FBI and the Oakland Police Department, are investigating the murders. Law enforcement believes that the shootings are not robberies gone wrong, hate crimes, or gang activity. On Oct. 11, police released a surveillance video of a man they believe to be a “person of interest.” They offered a reward of $125,000 for any information that could result in an arrest.
On Oct. 15, Stockton Police arrested Wesley Brownlee based on matching ballistics to a gun in his possession, as well as eyewitness reports.
Sources: (NBC News, ABC News, AP News, KRON 4 News, SF Gate)
Categories: Local News
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