December 3, 2022

After a painstaking investigation into a series of fatal shootings across California’s Central Valley, the authorities said on Saturday that they had arrested a man in connection with the killings that had rattled Stockton and nearby communities.

The man, Wesley Brownlee, 43, was arrested in Stockton early on Saturday while he was “out hunting” for another victim, Stanley McFadden, the chief of the Stockton Police Department, said at a news conference. Charges were pending, the authorities said.

The arrest came nearly two weeks after the police said that five victims, all men between the ages of 21 and 54, had been fatally shot while alone in dimly lit areas at night or in the early morning between July 8 and Sept. 27. Four of the men were Hispanic; one was white. None were robbed.

The police later said that they had also linked those cases to two additional shootings: A 40-year-old Hispanic man who was killed in Oakland, Calif., about 70 miles west of Stockton, on April 10; and a 46-year-old Black woman who was shot in Stockton on April 16 and survived her injuries.

Chief McFadden said on Oct. 4 that the authorities believed they were dealing with a “potential serial killer” after investigators connected the killings through ballistic and video footage, including a clip that showed a person walking with an uneven stride and an upright posture.

Investigators interviewed the woman who survived and learned that she had been in her tent when she heard someone walking around her campsite. When she stepped outside, she saw someone wearing dark clothes and a mask pointing a gun at her, Chief McFadden said.

She rushed toward the gunman and was shot multiple times, Chief McFadden said, before the man lowered his gun.

The killings had spread anxiety among some residents, with many questioning who could be behind such coldblooded acts in Stockton, which is in the agricultural flatlands of California’s Central Valley. The city, which is 80 miles east of the San Francisco Bay Area, is home to about 322,000 people. It has long struggled with poverty and violence.

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