Police announced an arrest in connection with the central California serial killings on Saturday, relieving the community’s stress after the gunman killed for more than a year.
The suspect, Wesley Brownlee, 43, was found because of tips from the public, according to Stockton police. Around two in the morning on Saturday, detectives were keeping an eye on Brownlee’s whereabouts and followed him as he drove.
They “determined early this morning he was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a press conference on Saturday afternoon.
McFadden stated, “We are sure we stopped another killing.” The suspect was wearing dark clothing, and a mask, and was carrying a weapon.
Using ballistics and video evidence, police have connected seven shootings—six of which resulted in fatalities—to the case. The attacks date back to the previous year.
In Oakland, a man was shot and killed in April 2021. A 46-year-old woman was injured in a shooting in Stockton a few days later. Then, additional gunshot fatalities were reported more than a year later. Between July 8 and September 27, there were five murders in Stockton that were connected to the case; all of them took place not far from one another.
All six of the fatalities were men; one woman who was wounded but survived served as a crucial witness for the police investigation. Many of the victims were without a place to live.
Authorities were baffled by the suspect’s appearance on surveillance footage at numerous crime scenes, and as a result, local leaders pleaded with the public to exercise caution and refrain from going outside alone in the middle of the night.
Investigators were helped, according to McFadden on Saturday, by locals who gave them leads and “old-fashioned police work.” Officers started keeping an eye on the suspect at his residence after tipsters identified a person of interest.
Police followed him as he fled in a car early on Saturday. According to McFadden, he behaved in a manner that was consistent with the “pattern” detectives had identified before his other murders.
According to McFadden, the suspect was driving “around parks, around dark places, stopping, looking around, moving again.”
Authorities claimed that the suspect has a criminal history, but they provided no further information. San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar stated that he was due to be arraigned early the following week at which time the charges will be made public.
Authorities on Saturday did not give a reason for the killings.
While authorities looked into the run of murders, the communities where the killings took place were living in fear. Police in Stockton canvassed homeless camps and went door to door to encourage locals to be cautious by going in groups and staying inside when feasible.
Before being arrested on Thursday, McFadden remarked, “Everyone is in fear. Do we need to pause our lives? No. But I think we need to be more alert. I think we need to have situational awareness.”