- Police in Stockton, California, announced Tuesday that they are investigating a possible serial killer.
- Authorities used ballistics tests to link six shooting deaths and a seventh wounding in recent months.
- Police are asking for the public’s help in locating a “person of interest” caught on surveillance footage.
Police on Tuesday said a serial killer may be behind six shooting deaths that have rocked California’s Central Valley in recent months.
The classification comes days after authorities in Stockton, California, said five victims killed between July 8 and September 27 were fatally shot while walking alone in dark areas. All five were men between the ages of 21 and 54, police said, and all four were Hispanic while the fifth was white.
“We don’t know what the motive is. What we believe is mission-oriented,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Tuesday during a news conference, according to the Washington Post. “This person is on a mission.”
On Monday, police said two additional shootings last year were likely linked to the spree, including a 40-year-old Hispanic man who was killed in Oakland on April 10, 2021, and a 46-year-old black woman who was wounded in a shooting in Stockton on April 16, 2021 but survived.
“I have absolutely no answer as to why this gun sat idle for over 400 days,” McFadden said during a news conference Tuesday, referring to the months between the April 2021 shooting and the resurgence of killings earlier this summer. according to The Guardian.
“He definitely meets the definition of a serial killer,” Stockton Police Officer Joseph Silva said, according to NBC Bay Area.
Police used ballistics tests and video to link the shootings and reviewed hours of video surveillance to identify a person of interest in the incidents. Stockton authorities released a dark photo of a walking figure and asked for the public’s help in locating the subject.
— Stockton Police Department (@StocktonPolice) September 30, 2022
A police spokesman earlier in the day said investigators were still trying to determine if multiple shooters were involved, but Stockton City Manager Harry Black said during Tuesday’s news conference that detectives are looking for “what looks like an individual who committed these crimes.” to NBC Bay Area.
Police also declined to say whether all seven shootings were linked to the same gun.
The San Joaquin County Coroner’s Office on Monday released the identities of the Stockton victims: Paul Yaw, 35, Salvador Debudey Jr. 43, Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, Juan Cruz, 52, and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54.
Police said investigators do not believe the victims were racially targeted, the New York Times reported.
The city of Stockton is offering a $75,000 reward for information leading to an arrest. Stockton officers and a local construction company owner are each offering an additional $10,000, according to police.
The conventional definition of a serial killer is someone who has murdered three or more people in incidents that share common elements.