STOCKTON, Calif. The arrest of a local man in the series of shootings that left six people dead and one wounded has raised as many questions as it has answered in this Central Valley city of 300,000 people.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, is expected to be arraigned Tuesday on multiple murder counts and other charges. Police said they received tips from the public that led them to Brownlee, whose alleged killing spree began 18 months ago in Oakland, 75 miles west of Stockton. Less than a week later, a woman was shot in Stockton and survived.
Fifteen months later came the first of five fatal shootings in Stockton over a span of less than three months.
“We have no reason why the pistol went dormant” for more than a year, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said. He also revealed no motive for the shootings.
Investigators relying on a tip from a local resident were following his car at 2 a.m. Saturday when they pulled the suspect over, concerned he might be poised to kill again.
“He was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting,” McFadden said. “We are sure we stopped another killing.”
He said the suspect was wearing dark clothing, a mask and was armed with a handgun. Police have linked the seven shootings using ballistics and video evidence, and authorities had been searching for a man clad in black who was caught on video at several of the crime scenes in Stockton.
Brownlee lived near the locations of the Stockton shootings, the police chief said. A defendant by the same name faced a felony case in 2017, infractions in 2021 and 2022 and a DUI case in 2009, San Joaquin County Superior Court records show.
It is unknown whether the firearm Brownlee had when arrested was registered under his name or stolen. Five of the seven victims are Latino men and four of the victims were homeless. McFadden, however, said the killings don’t appear to be hate crimes.
Brownlee has lived in other cities in addition to Stockton, he said, and has a criminal history elsewhere.
April 10, 2021: Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was shot multiple times in Oakland at about 4:15 a.m.
April 16, 2021: Natasha LaTour, 46, the lone survivor, said out and was shot multiple times by a man she said was wearing dark clothes, a hood and a protective face maskshe was in her tent in Stockton at about 3 a.m. when she heard someone creating a disturbance. She went . He never said a word, LaTour told police.
July 8, 2022: Paul Yaw, 35, was killed at a park. His mother, Greta Bogrow, of Texas, told NBC News her son had been homeless for about five years.
Aug. 11, 2022: Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, was a father and married for 12 years to Analydia Lopez, who told KCRA-TV that she was devastated by the slaying.
“A part of me died with him that day,” Lopez said. “It’s been hard. It’s been really, really hard.”
Aug. 30. 2022: Stockton native Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, was found fatally shot inside his vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sept. 21, 2022: Juan Cruz, 52, was fatally shot at an apartment complex.
Sept. 27, 2022: Lawrence “Lorenzo” Lopez Sr., 54, was shot in a residential areas just north of downtown. His brother, Jerry, said Lorenzo was a father of six children ages 16 to 38. Jerry Lopez told NBC News his older brother worked as an independent contractor and had fallen into homelessness.
Oct. 3, 2022: Police announce that an unidentified person of interest recorded on grainy security video could be a suspect or a witness.
Oct. 15, 2022: Police stop the vehicle Brownlee is driving and take him into custody
Contributing: Angelaydet Rocha, The Stockton Record; The Associated Press