Suspected California serial killer Wesley Brownlee was caught during a ‘mission to kill’: what we know

STOCKTON, California– With the California city of Stockton on edge after a series of late-night shootings by an unknown assailant, law enforcement officials believe the arrest of a suspect this weekend prevented another homicide.

Wesley Brownlee, 43, of Stockton, was taken into custody around 2 a.m. Saturday, dressed in dark clothing, with a mask around his neck and armed with a firearm, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said during a news conference.

“He was on a mission to kill. He was on the hunt,” McFadden said. “We are certain that we prevented another murder,” he added.

Working on leads from the public, a surveillance team followed Brownlee as he drove through parks and dark places, “stopping, looking around and moving again,” McFadden said. The team observed his patterns and arrested him after “determining he posed a threat,” the boss said.

Brownlee is suspected of killing six men and wounding a woman in the series of shootings, the earliest of which dated back to April 2021 and the most recent was reported late last month, officials said.

All of the victims were alone in the evening or early morning hours when they were attacked, police said.

MORE: Only one known survivor of suspected Stockton serial killer describes terrifying encounter

Earlier this month, while searching for the shooter, police released surveillance video of a man they said was a person of interest. The boss pointed out at the time that the person’s posture was “extremely upright and conspicuous”.

A reward for information leading to an arrest rose to $125,000 this week.

Hundreds of tips were received from members of the public, according to Stockton Mayor Kevin J. Lincoln.

“This crime was solved because we are Stocktonians. Because you don’t come to our house and bring that kind of reign of terror and you don’t mobilize 350,000 people — 780,000, this entire county — you mobilized, mobilized and captured this person whose reign of terror is no longer in place,” said San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verb Salazar.

The boss said the suspect had “a criminal history” but gave no further details.

Brownlee was being held without bail in the county jail Saturday, prison records said. According to Salazar, he will appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.

Ballistics evidence linked the cases and sparked alarms about a “potential serial killer,” McFadden said earlier this month.

Authorities are still investigating the motive for the shootings, which police have described as “mission-motivated.” Nothing was taken in any of the attacks, and the victims included both housed and unhoused people, according to the chief.

The median age of the victims was 42, and they were mostly males and mostly Hispanic, McFadden said last week.

The first of the seven shootings is believed to have occurred in the early hours of April 10, 2021 in Oakland, more than 70 miles from Stockton. A 40-year-old Hispanic man was killed, police said.

The next shooting happened on April 16, 2021, when a 46-year-old black woman was shot dead in Stockton and survived her injuries. She is the only surviving victim.

In an interview with police, the woman said she heard someone walking around her campsite and came out to find her assailant pointing a gun at her. The person fired multiple shots and injured her trying to defend himself, McFadden said during a news conference last week.

She told police her attacker said nothing at all and was wearing dark clothing and a dark Covid-style mask, according to the boss.

The remainder of the shootings happened between July and September this year, officials said. Four of those killed that year were Hispanic men, ages 21 to 54, and the fifth was a 35-year-old white man, police said.

The victims of this year’s murders have been identified by the San Joaquin County Coroner as follows: Paul Yaw, 35, killed July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, killed August 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, killed August 30; Juan Cruz, 52, killed September 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, killed September 27.

All seven shootings took place in dark areas where there weren’t many cameras. The victims were “alone, often unprepared, or perhaps relaxing in a vehicle or walking alone in a near pitch black night,” McFadden told CNN’s Kasie Hunt earlier this month.

The CNN Wire ™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia company. All rights reserved. Suspected California serial killer Wesley Brownlee was caught during a ‘mission to kill’: what we know

Russell Falcon

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