Stockton serial killer: How California police tracked down shadowy murder suspect
California police accused Wesley Brownlee of killing six men and injuring a woman in a string of late-night shootings
A suspected California serial killer is behind bars after a spate of ambush attacks on random victims under the cover of darkness terrorized the city of Stockton all summer, according to authorities.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, is accused of killing six men and wounding a homeless woman in a spate of ambush-style shootings stretching back to April 2021.
Stockton police said they intercepted him early Saturday morning, as he set out on an alleged "mission to kill," according to the city’s police chief.
"We are sure we stopped another killing, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said in a statement Saturday.
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Brownlee allegedly ambushed his victims in parks and on sidewalks in the dark of night, with no publicly known motive.
Most of the shootings took place in Stockton, according to authorities. The first happened in Oakland, California, on April 10, 2021. Police said they believe all seven shootings were related based on ballistic evidence and surveillance video.
Most of the victims were Hispanic, and a tall, thin, black-clad stalker appeared on surveillance video at several of the crime scenes, according to authorities. None of the victims had been robbed. Some were homeless.
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Stockton police shared a snippet of surveillance video earlier this month showing a lanky figure walking around the corner of a building. Brownlee stands 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs just 165 pounds, according to jail records.
The lone survivor, Natasha LaTour, told police that her attacker didn’t say anything.
"There were no words exchanged," she recalled in an interview with San Joaquin County’s independent local news outlet, 209 Times. "Didn't come any closer. Didn't say anything. Just started shooting. I saw, I saw flashes."
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Brownlee is due in court for his arraignment Tuesday.
On April 10, 2021, 39-year-old father of three Juan Vasquez Serrano was shot and killed around 4:20 a.m. in Harmon Avenue in Oakland, according to FOX 2 San Francisco. He sustained multiple gunshot wounds, which triggered the city’s ShotSpotter system. However, the gunman had vanished before responding officers arrived.
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Six days later, 46-year-old LaTour a homeless woman living in a tent, awoke around 3:20 a.m., looked outside and saw a man with a gun, who allegedly opened fire without speaking a word, she said. She was struck multiple times and attempted to fight back, she said. Her attacker left, and she survived with the help of a passing couple who rendered aid.
The alleged gunman went dormant until this summer, according to investigators, when five men were gunned down between July and September. Each of them was alone in a "very dark" area at the time of ambush, police previously told Fox News Digital.
On July 8, a gunman ambushed and killed Paul Yaw, 35, on Kermit Lane around 12:30 a.m.
Then around 9:45 p.m., on Aug. 11, Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, died after another shooting, this one on West Lane, according to investigators.
Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, was killed at around 6:40 a.m. on Aug. 30 on East Hammer Lane.
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Juan Cruz, 52, succumbed to his injuries after a 4:30 a.m. Sept. 21 shooting on Manchester Avenue.
Lawrence Lopez Sr. 54, died on Sept. 27, gunned down around 2 a.m. along Porter Avenue.
Three days later, Stockton police announced they had evidence to link the five most recent shootings to a single suspect, then days later, they said the two 2021 attacks were also attributed to the same suspect. Tips came pouring in, McFadden said Saturday.
Investigators soon zeroed in on Brownlee as a person of interest and began watching him.
"Our surveillance team followed this person while he was driving," the chief said. "We watched his patterns, and determined early [Oct. 15], he was on a mission to kill."
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Around 2 a.m., police said, they watched him visit a series of dark places, including parks, observing the areas before moving on.
"He was out hunting," McFadden said.
When officers stopped him, he was wearing "dark clothing and a mask around his neck," according to the chief. And he was carrying a gray and black handgun.
"We are sure we stopped another killing," McFadden said.
The chief said he personally joined SWAT members and homicide detectives during the search of Brownlee’s apartment.
The investigation remains ongoing.
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Authorities are asking anyone with additional information to call the tip line at 209-937-8167 or submit tips anonymously to StocktonCrimeStoppers.org.
Brownlee is being held without bail on murder and firearms charges.
The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.