Police in California say they have caught a suspected serial killer responsible for a handful of murders that have haunted the Stockton and Oakland areas.
Authorities say they apprehended the suspect, identified as Wesley Brownlee, 43, while he was driving before dawn Saturday, possibly on the prowl to collect another life.
Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said on Saturday, ‘Early this morning he was on a mission to kill, he was out hunting.’
‘He was wearing dark clothing and had a mask around his neck. He was also armed with a firearm when he was taken into custody. We are sure we stopped another killing,’ he continued.
‘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,’ he said, adding that Brownlee was detained after engaging in what appeared to be threatening behavior, including going to parks and dark places, stopping and looking around before driving on.
A moment of silence was held at the news conference for the victims of the suspect who has been terrorizing the community for close to two years.
Investigators began watching the suspect after receiving tips and stopped him in a car at about 2 a.m. in the Central Valley city, where five of the shootings took place, said McFadden.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested early Saturday morning by Stockton law enforcement. He is suspect of shooting at least seven people in the last 18 months
Pictured: the pistol Brownlee was carrying when he was arrested Saturday. Police say Brownlee was out hunting for a new victim when he was apprehended early Saturday. His alleged victims were all shot to death
Stockton Police confirmed to the DailyMail.com that they believe the man in surveillance footage they released earlier this month is the same man who arrested Saturday
The victims of California’s ‘serial killer’ – who has terrorized the city for nearly two years
April 2021: Miguel Vasquez Serrano, 39, was killed in East Oakland. He was homeless at the time of his murder
Natasha LaTour, 46, was homeless at the time she was shot by the alleged serial killer in Stockton. She survived despite being shot close to a dozen time
April 2021: Natasha LaTour , 46, was shot in Stockton but survived. She was shot nearly a dozen times at 3.20am outside a tent she was living in at the time
Paul Alexander Yaw, 35, was killed in July 2022
July 2022: Paul Yaw, 35, was killed in Stockton. He was one of only two non-Hispanic victims of the killer
Salvador William Dubedy Jr., 43, was killed on August 11, 2022
August 11, 2022: Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, was killed in Stockton. Debudey was a Stockton native and father who died at the scene after police attempted to resuscitate him
August 30, 2022: Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, was killed in Stockton. He was found dead inside a car on East Hammer Lane. It was unclear if he had been sleeping in the vehicle at the time of his murder
September 21, 2022: Juan Cruz, 52, was killed in Stockton
Lorenzo Lopez Sr., 54, was the killer’s final known victim. He was killed on September 27
September 27, 2022: Lorenzo Lopez Sr., 54, was killed in Stockton. He was gunned down shortly before 2am in a residential area in downtown Stockton
His first suspected killing occurred last April 21, and his most recent ‘hunt’ took place less than one month prior to his arrest.
He is now in custody and is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday afternoon. Police say he has a criminal history.
McFadden said his officers were able to make a breakthrough in the case because of ‘community tips’ and ‘good old fashioned police work.’
Authorities said they received hundreds of tips after announcing the manhunt, and investigators located and watched the place where Brownlee was living.
Authorities have so far been able to connect six gun deaths in California cities to a single murderer since the beginning of 2021.
Law enforcement authorities described Brownlee’s killing spree as a ‘reign of terror.’ Just one of his alleged victims survived being shot.
Earlier this month, police released footage of a man they believed to be the Stockton serial killer.
On Saturday, the Stockton police department confirmed to the Daily Mail that they believe the individual in the surveillance footage is the same person who appeared in the video.
The first of his victims was 39-year-old Miguel Vasquez Serrano, who died in East Oakland last April. He was homeless at the time of his murder.
He had been living on the streets of the Seminary district of Oakland for about eight months. One local resident told the Daily Beast Serrano was known around the neighborhood for his skill at fixing cars.
Brownlee allegedly then targeted Natasha LaTour, 46, who was also homeless at the time, living on the streets of Stockton.
She was camped in a tent at the corner of Park and Union streets near train tacks when a man dressed in dark clothing approached her with a gun in his outstretched hand.
He said nothing to her before he began shooting.
She ran directly at him and tried to reach the road. She managed to flag down a passing car and asked the passengers to call 911.
She had been shot nine times, but survived to tell the cops what she had seen. She then remembers waking up four days later in the hospital.
The next victim was not killed until this summer in early July.
Paul Yaw, 35, died on July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, died on August 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, died on August 30; and Juan Cruz, 52, died on September 21.
His most recent alleged kill was of Lawrence Lopez Sr., who died on September 27.
Five of the killer’s seven victims have been Hispanic, though it remains unclear if they were targeted because of their race. Some of the victims were homeless, while others were not.
None of the victims were robbed or beaten prior to their killings, and none appeared to know one another.
Furthermore, according to police, the killings did not appear to be gang or drug related.
Police do not yet know the motive but say they believe the killer was ‘mission oriented.’
It is also unclear to law enforcement, why the killer apparently took a more than 400 day break between his first spree in April 2021 and July of this year when he began slaying again.
Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said Saturday following the arrest that members of the community should be able to ‘rest a little bit easier tonight.’
‘I want to make this very very clear, to the people of Stockton, to the United States and around the world. When the people of Stockton come together and we unite we can get things done. Stockton will be a place where people can live, raise a family and grow a business,’ he said.
Previously released CCTV footage shows the suspect dressed in all dark attire limping around Stockton in the early morning hours.
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, 202
Police have linked Brownlee to seven shootings in the Oakland and Stockton area inside of the last 18 months
Police released a video earlier this month of a suspect dressed in dark colors who walked with an ‘uneven stride.’