Arrest of suspect made in connection with Stockton serial killings that left 6 dead

By Dominique Williams | Sacramento Bee

Stockton police and city officials announced an arrest Saturday in connection with the series of killings that has gripped the California city and national headlines.

Six people were gunned down in the deadly string — five in Stockton and one in Oakland — stretching back to 2021. All are tied, police said earlier this month, to a single weapon.

The person in custody, identified as 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee, is a resident of Stockton. He was arrested around 2 a.m., authorities said at a news conference at Stockton Police Department headquarters Saturday afternoon.

“This remains a very active investigation,” said police Chief Stanley McFadden.

“We are sure we stopped another killing,” he added, as he spoke of the arrest following overnight surveillance by officers.

Police remain unclear about why the victims were targeted. None were robbed or beaten, and the five Stockton killings all took place within a few square miles of each other.

In some of the crimes, the suspect was described as 5-foot-10 to 6 feet, dressed in dark clothing and donning a black cap, and was seen walking with an even stride and upright posture.

The first fatal shooting was in Oakland in April 2021. The woman was wounded in Stockton days later. More than a year passed, then the five killings in Stockton took place between July 8 and Sept. 27, all within a radius of a few square miles, police said.

There was a $125,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, but it’s not immediately clear if anyone will collect it.

The first killing targeted Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, in Oakland at around 4:15 a.m. on April 10, 2021. He was shot multiple times, according to the Alameda County coroner’s bureau. It was not immediately clear if he was alone when he was killed.

In the nonfatal attack, the 46-year-old woman told investigators that she was inside her tent on April 16, 2021 at about 3:20 a.m. when she heard someone walking around outside.

The San Joaquin County Office of the Medical Examiner identified 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.

A ballistics investigation revealed the 448-day break between the second and third victims and the rapidly closing gaps between victims thereafter: 34 days, then 19, then just six days as the death toll continued to mount.

Police said four of the Stockton homicide victims were walking alone and a fifth was in a parked car when they were killed in the evening or early morning.

The Bee’s Darrell Smith and Daniel Hunt, and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Check back for updates.

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