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Arrest in series of Stockton, California, murders

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An arrest has been made in a series of murders that took place in Stockton, California, authorities said Saturday.

Based on tips, police tracked down and arrested Wesley Brownlee, 43, who was taken into custody early Saturday, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference.

“Our security team followed this person while he was driving,” he said. “He was on a mission to kill. He was hunting.’

The chief said the suspect was in dark clothing, had a mask around his neck and was armed.

“We are sure we stopped another murder,” he said.

Six people were killed and one survived the series of shootings that began in April 2021. The most recent was on September 27. Investigators used ballistic evidence to link the shootings.

Most of the victims were Latinos, although authorities said they found no evidence that the murders were race-based. Three victims were homeless.

McFadden said at a press conference on Oct. 4 that no evidence existed to support a hate motive. “We have no witness who said that this person said, or even spoke, anything like that,” he said.

The victims have been identified as Paul Alexander Yaw, 35; Salvador Debudey, Jr., 43; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21; Juan Cruz, 52; Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54; Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39; and an unidentified 46-year-old black woman who survived.

Serrano is believed to have been the first victim. He was fatally shot just before 4:20 a.m. on April 10, 2021, in Oakland, police said. Another shooting occurred days later, on April 16, involving the unidentified woman. She told authorities she was in her tent and came out at about 3:20 a.m., shoved on a man who was causing a disturbance and was immediately shot.

The woman described the gunman as six feet tall and wearing dark clothing and a dark mask, police said.

Yaw was murdered in a Stockton park on July 8, his mother Greta Bogrow said. Bogrow, who lives in Texas, said she is estranged from Yaw, who had been homeless for about five years.

The next shooting took place on August 11. According to police, Debudey was shot in a parking lot around 9:49 PM. Officers tried to take life-saving measures, but he died at the scene, police said. About three weeks later, Rodriguez was shot in his vehicle outside his apartment complex on Aug. 30, the station reported.

The last two shootings happened days in a row on Sept. 21 when Cruz was killed, and on Sept. 27 when Lopez was shot and killed just before 2 a.m. on the 900 block of Porter Avenue.

The murders have scared the city of more than 322,000 people in the Central Valley, about 80 miles east of San Francisco.

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