A man arrested in California over the weekend in connection with a series of killings – largely in the city of Stockton – is expected to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon.
Wesley Brownlee, 43, of Stockton, is scheduled to appear in San Joaquin County Superior Court at 1:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday. The district attorney is expected to speak to reporters about the charges after the arraignment.
Brownlee was arrested Saturday, authorities said, in connection with seven California shootings that Stockton police believe are connected by ballistic evidence – the killings of five men in Stockton and one in Oakland, and the wounding of a woman in Stockton – from April 2021 to late last month.
Brownlee was hunting for someone else to harm when he was taken into custody in Stockton around 2 a.m. Saturday, clad in dark clothing with a mask around his neck and armed with a firearm, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Saturday
“He was on a mission to kill. He was out hunting,” McFadden said Saturday. “We are sure we stopped another killing.”
Working off tips from the public, a surveillance team was following Brownlee as he drove around parks and dark places, “stopping, looking around and moving again,” McFadden said. The team watched his patterns and arrested him after they “identified that he’s posing a threat,” said the chief.
Brownlee was being held Tuesday in county jail without opportunity for bail on preliminary charges., including murder and carrying a loaded firearm in public, according to jail records.
It wasn’t immediately clear what charges would be announced at Tuesday’s arraignment.
Stockton police early this month initially announced they believed five killings in the city between July 8 and September 27 were related.
A couple days later, they announced they believed two shootings from 2021 also were tied to the other five – the killing of a 40-year-old Hispanic man in Oakland on April 10, 2021; and the wounding of a 46-year-old Black woman in Stockton six days later.
Investigators have ballistic evidence that connects the six homicides and one attempted homicide, McFadden said earlier this month. Each victim was alone and shot either in the evening or early morning, police said.
Authorities are still investigating the motive in the shootings. Victims included both housed and unhoused people, according to McFadden.
Among the victims in this year’s killings, four were Hispanic men ranging from 21 to 54 years old, and the fifth was a 35-year-old White man, police have said.
The victims of this year’s killings were identified by San Joaquin County’s medical examiner as: Paul Yaw, 35, killed on July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, killed on August 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, killed on August 30; Juan Cruz, 52, killed on September 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, killed on September 27.
In an interview with police, the woman who was shot in April 2021 said she heard someone walking around her campsite and came out to find her attacker holding a gun on her. The person fired multiple shots, wounding her, as she tried to defend herself, McFadden said during a news conference last week.
She told police her attacker said nothing and wore dark clothing and a dark Covid-style mask, according to the chief.
All seven shootings happened in dark areas where there weren’t many cameras. The victims were “alone, often caught off guard, or maybe relaxing in a vehicle or walking alone in almost pitch darkness,” McFadden told CNN’s Kasie Hunt earlier this month.
A reward for information leading to an arrest grew to $125,000 by this week. Hundreds of tips poured in from members of the public, according to Stockton Mayor Kevin J. Lincoln.
Stockton is a city of about 322,000 people roughly a 45-mile drive southeast of Sacramento.