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California man charged in 3 slayings linked to serial killer

Oct 18, 2022, 3:51 PM
This booking photo provided by the Stockton Police Department shows Wesley Brownlee, from Stockton,...
This booking photo provided by the Stockton Police Department shows Wesley Brownlee, from Stockton, Calif., who was arrested Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022, in connection to a series of shootings. Brownlee, suspected of killing six men and wounding a woman in Northern California was arrested before dawn Saturday as he was apparently searching for another victim, police said. (Stockton Police Department via AP)
(Stockton Police Department via AP)

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Prosecutors on Tuesday charged a Northern California man with fatally shooting three men whom police have said were among six victims slain by a serial killer over the past year and a half.

Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested Saturday on suspicion of killing six men and wounding a woman in a series of shootings dating back to April 2021. Police had been conducting surveillance on him Saturday as he drove through the streets of Stockton, armed with a handgun and possibly “out hunting” for another victim.

The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday filed three counts of murder, one count of a felon in possession of a firearm and one count of possession of ammunition.

“There are some people who are just simply too dangerous to share the streets with you and I,” District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said at a press conference after Brownlee’s arraignment.

Authorities believe the same gun was used in the slayings of the three men.

“A firearm was found in the defendant’s possession of a similar caliber of the weapons used in the five homicides here and the sixth in Oakland,” Verber Salazar said.

Verber Salazar said police shared the gun with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and “the amount of work that they did in partnership with us is amazing.”

Brownlee is currently only charged in the three most recent slayings that occurred in Stockton. Verber Salazar said she expects to file additional charges in three other murders and an attempted murder.

She would not say whether Brownlee knew any of the victims personally.

It was not immediately known if Brownlee has an attorney who can comment on his behalf. He is being held in jail without bail.

Authorities previously described the suspect — now identified as Brownlee — as a serial killer who was “on a mission” but did not appear to have a clear motive in who he targeted for his crimes. Investigators have said ballistics tests and video evidence linked the shootings.

The five men killed in Stockton this year were Paul Yaw, 35, who died July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, who died Aug. 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, who died Aug. 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who died Sept. 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, who died Sept. 27. Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was killed in Oakland on April 10, 2021, and Natasha LaTour, 46, was shot in Stockton on April 16 that year but survived.

The criminal complaint filed Tuesday only lists charges for the killings of Rodriguez, Cruz and Lopez.

Brownlee has a criminal history that includes traffic violations and convictions for drug crimes that goes back to an arrest when he was 15 years old , according to The East Bay Times. He was most recently discharged from parole in 2006.

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California man charged in 3 slayings linked to serial killer