Details emerge on California serial killer’s criminal past

Oct 17, 2022, 2:23 AM | Updated: 5:46 pm

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a press conference at the Stockton Police Depa...

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a press conference at the Stockton Police Department headquarters in Stockton, Calif., on the arrest of suspect Wesley Brownlee in the Stockton serial killings on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2022. Behind McFadden is a booking photo of Brownlee. (Clifford Oto/The Record via AP)

(Clifford Oto/The Record via AP)

STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — A man suspected of killing six men and wounding a woman in a series of shootings in Northern California has a criminal history that includes traffic violations and convictions for drug crimes, authorities said Monday.

Stockton police arrested Wesley Brownlee, 43, on Saturday after surveilling him as he drove through the streets of the city, armed with a handgun and possibly “out hunting” for another victim, police said.

In January 1999, Brownlee had been sentenced to two years in prison in Alameda County, which encompasses the city of Oakland, for possessing and selling a controlled substance, the California corrections department said. He was released on parole in August 1999 after serving seven months.

Brownlee was again convicted in Alameda County in December 2001 and sentenced to three years for the same crime. He was released to parole in May 2003 and discharged from parole three years later.

Prosecutors in San Joaquin County, which includes Stockton, were working Monday with the city’s police department to review the evidence and expect to file charges Tuesday, said Elisa Bubak, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office.

It was not immediately known if Brownlee has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.

Court documents show he was first arrested at age 15 in Alameda County on suspicion of selling crack cocaine and was placed on house arrest, The East Bay Times reported.

In 1997, at age 18, Brownlee was arrested again and charged with possessing crack cocaine and was sentenced to a three-year probation term. His probation was revoked a year later after he sold cocaine to an undercover police officer, and in 1999 he was sentenced to two years in state prison and sent to San Quentin, the newspaper reported.

Brownlee grew up in Oakland just six blocks from where the Oakland victim was killed, the East Bay Times reported, citing court records. All of the Stockton killings happened near addresses listed for Brownlee and his relatives, KXTV-TV reported.

Investigators have said ballistics tests and video evidence linked the crimes. A police photo showed the black and gray weapon allegedly carried by the suspect. It appeared to be a semi-automatic handgun containing some nonmetallic materials.

Police said after Brownlee’s arrest that he was dressed in black, had a mask around his neck and a handgun, and was possibly searching for another victim when he was arrested driving around Stockton, where five men were ambushed and shot to death between July 8 and Sept. 27. Four of the victims were walking, and one was in a parked car.

Police believe the same shooter was responsible for the April 2021 killing in Oakland, some 70 miles (110 kilometers) away, and for wounding the woman in Stockton a week later.

At Saturday’s news conference, a moment of silence was held for the victims.

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 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.

After receiving hundreds of tips, investigators located and watched the place where Brownlee was living. They observed his patterns, determined he was out searching for another victim and arrested him, authorities said.

Police said some victims were homeless, but not all. None were beaten or robbed, and the woman who survived said her attacker didn’t say anything.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


jerry west...

Tim Reynolds, The Associated Press

Jerry West, a 3-time Hall of Fame selection and the NBA logo, dies at 86

Jerry West, a three-time Basketball Hall of Fame inductee whose silhouette is considered to be the basis of the NBA logo, died Wednesday morning.

6 hours ago

Photo: Construction vehicles are parked outside of the Station U & O building on Tuesday, June 11, ...

Haleluya Hadero, The Associated Press

Amazon adds $1.4B to affordable housing fund for regions where it has corporate offices

Amazon is adding $1.4B to a fund for building more affordable housing in regions where the company has major corporate offices.

20 hours ago

hunter biden...

Randall Chase and the Associated Press

Hunter Biden convicted of all 3 felony charges in federal gun trial

Hunter Biden has been convicted of all three felony charges related to the purchase of a revolver in 2018, but no sentencing date was set.

1 day ago

Photo: A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real e...

Associated Press

Bremerton man sentenced for 20 ‘swatting’ calls of false threats in US, Canada

A Bremerton man who made 20 "swatting" calls around the U.S. and in Canada, prompting real emergency responses, has been sentenced.

2 days ago

Image: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, left, speaks with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zele...

Associated Press

Ukraine uses US weapons to strike inside Russia, a Western official tells AP

Ukraine has used U.S weapons to strike inside Russia in recent days, according to a Western official familiar with the matter told the AP.

7 days ago

boeing nasa...

Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press

Boeing launches NASA astronauts for the first time after years of delays

Boeing launched astronauts for the first time Wednesday, belatedly joining SpaceX as a second taxi service for NASA.

7 days ago

Details emerge on California serial killer’s criminal past