A California serial killer appears to be “on a mission” dating back to last year, in which at least six men were shot dead and a woman injured – but authorities have not discovered what’s behind the violence.
Ballistic tests and some video evidence linked the shootings in Stockton and Oakland, about 70 miles apart in Northern California, police said.
“We don’t know what the motive is. What we do believe is that it is mission-oriented,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Tuesday. “This person has a mission.”
While police declined to say whether all seven shootings were associated with the same gun, McFadden alluded to a single gun during the press conference.
“I have absolutely no answer as to why that gun was dormant for more than 400 days,” the chief said between the shootings in April 2021 and the first case this summer.
Authorities announced last week that five men in the town of Stockton had been ambushed and shot dead alone in the dark in recent months. Late Monday, police said two more cases, the death of a man in Oakland and the non-fatal shooting of a woman in Stockton, were linked to those murders last year.
A person of interest is wanted in connection with the bloodshed. They appear on video at several crime scenes, but there is no evidence linking them directly to the shooting, McFadden said. He said some victims were homeless and others were not.
There is a $125,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Police are processing hundreds of tips daily and providing additional evidence in case other crimes in the state can be linked to the spate of shootings.
All of the fatal Stockton cases occurred within a few square miles between July 8 and September 27. None of the victims were robbed or beaten for the murders, and no one seemed to know each other, Silva said. Also, the shootings do not appear to be gang-related or drug-related.
In the other crime in Stockton, a 46-year-old woman told investigators she was in her tent at about 3:20 a.m. on April 16, 2021 when she heard someone walking around outside.
“When she came out of her tent, she met someone with a gun,” McFadden said.
The suspect fired several shots, injuring the woman, but she tried to defend herself by going after her attacker, the chief said. The shooter lowered the gun.
“She said no words were mentioned at all,” McFadden said.
The woman was alone at the time
The death of a man in Oakland around 4:15 a.m. on April 10, 2021 has also been linked to the violence in Stockton, police said. Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was shot multiple times, according to the Alameda County coroner. It was not immediately clear whether the man was also alone when he was murdered.
The City of Stockton, Stockton Crime Stoppers and a local construction company owner offered a total of $95,000 for information leading to an arrest.
Police have released a grainy still image of a “person of interest”, dressed all in black and wearing a black cap, who appeared in videos of several crime scenes involving murder in Stockton.
The medical examiner’s office in San Joaquin identified the Stockton victims Monday as Paul Yaw, 35, who was murdered on July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr, 43, died Aug. 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, died August 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who was murdered on Sept. 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr, 54.
Lopez was shot shortly before 2 a.m. on Sept. 27 in a residential area just north of downtown.
He “was just someone who was here in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong circumstances,” his brother, Jerry Lopez, told KXTV-TV. “It’s hard to process that this happened.”
Several people may even be involved in the violence.
“To be honest, we just don’t know,” Silva said. “This person or people who are doing this are definitely very cheeky and cheeky.”
Police said four of the Stockton victims were walking alone and a fifth was in a parked car when they were killed in the evening or early morning in the city of 320,000, about 50 miles south of the state capital. , Sacramento.