‘We stopped another killing’ – suspected California serial killer arrested by police while ‘out hunting’

US

A man suspected of killing six people in a string of murders in California has been arrested by police while “out hunting” for his next victim.

Wesley Brownlee was driving in the city of Stockton, where five of the murders took place, and was armed with a handgun, when he was stopped by police officers in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Investigators had been tracking the 43-year-old after receiving tips from members of the public.

“Based on tips coming into the department and Stockton Crime Stoppers, we were able to zero in on a possible suspect,” Police Chief Stanley McFadden said.

“Our surveillance team followed this person while he was driving. We watched his patterns and determined, early this morning, he was on a mission to kill.”

Mr McFadden added that Brownlee was detained after engaging in what appeared to be threatening behaviour, including going to parks and dark places, stopping and looking around before driving on.

He was dressed in black, had a mask around his neck, had a gun and “was out hunting”, the police chief said.

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A police photo showed the weapon allegedly carried by the suspect, which appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun containing some non-metallic materials.

Brownlee is accused of shooting dead six men and wounding a woman in an 18-month killing spree in the Stockton and Oakland areas.

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a news conference at the Stockton Police Department headquarters about the arrest of suspect Wesley Brownlee in a series of killings in Stockton, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. Pictured behind McFadden are Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln, left, San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Veber Salazar and Stockton city manager Harry Black. (Clifford Oto/The Record via AP)
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Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a news conference

Who were the victims?

Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was the first victim to be killed in Oakland on 10 April 2021.

Just six days later, 46-year-old Natasha LaTour was shot in Stockton, but managed to survive after scaring off her attacker by walking towards them.

More than a year later, the killer struck again, shooting dead Paul Yaw, 35, on 8 July, then Salvador Debudey on 11 August, followed by 21-year-old Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez on 30 August and 52-year-old Juan Cruz on 21 September.

Paul Yaw was the first of the Stockton victims to die Pic: Greta Bogrow
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Paul Yaw was the first of the Stockton victims to die. Pic: Greta Bogrow

The most recent victim was 54-year-old Lawrence Lopez, who died on 27 September.

Police believe the same person was responsible for all the shootings, with ballistics tests and video evidence linking the crimes together.

There was a $125,000 (£109,000) reward available for information leading to an arrest.

Lorenzo Lopez, the most recent victim, died on 27 September Pic: Jerry Lopez Family
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Lorenzo Lopez, the most recent victim, died on 27 September Pic: Jerry Lopez Family

Police said Brownlee has a criminal history and is believed to have also lived in several cities near Stockton, but they did not give further details.

Investigators have been trying to identify a motive for the attacks, with none of the victims appearing to have little in common.

Some of the victims were homeless, but not all. None were beaten or robbed, and the woman who survived said her attacker didn’t say anything.

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