Wesley Brownlee is charged with 4 additional murders, authorities say


A California serial killing suspect who police said was caught while “out hunting” for another victim has been charged with four additional murders, bringing the total to seven, state authorities said this week.

Wesley Brownlee, 43, was also newly charged with attempted murder in an attack on a woman who ran away last year. Brownlee is accused of carrying out seemingly random shootings under the cover of darkness before fleeing the scene of the seven murders and one botched attack.

The shootings took place in 2021 and 2022 in California’s Central Valley, instilling fear among the inhabitants. While the killer remained at large in the fall, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden told the public to “keep your heads up.”

Police arrested Brownlee on 15 October after chasing him while he was driving. He was taken into custody around 2 a.m., armed with a handgun and wearing dark clothing with a mask around his neck, McFadden said when he announced the arrest.

“We were watching his patterns and early this morning we found he was on a mission to kill,” McFadden said during a news conference at the time. “He was hunting.”

Brownlee was originally charged with the murders of Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, Juan Cruz and Lawrence Lopez Sr., reports the Los Angeles Times. The crimes took place between August and September in Stockton, according to police.

On Tuesday, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office announced that she filed an amended complaint charging Brownlee with the murders of Juan Alexander Vasquez and Mervin Harmon of Alameda County, and Paul Yau and Salvador Debudey Jr. of San Joaquin County. He was also charged with attempted murder in the attack on Natasha Latour, who survived and told police the gunman was wearing dark clothing, a dark jacket and a black “Covid-style” mask.

District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said in a statement that officials are working to “provide justice for these victims.”

“We would like to thank the community for their support and law enforcement for their diligent investigation and apprehension of the suspect,” she added.

According to the complaint, Vasquez was fatally shot on April 10, 2021. The shootings of Harmon and Latour happened six days later. Yau was killed on July 8, 2022, and Debudey Jr. on August 11.

The victims, several of whom are homeless, according to the Timeswere attacked alone at night or early in the morning.

Authorities said ballistics and video evidence linked the murders and that information from the public helped identify a suspect. Prior to the arrest, police had released blurry footage of a person of interest that did not show the person’s face. Police said they are looking for a suspect who travels in a vehicle and lurks near parks in the dark, then targets a target he approaches on foot.

This is what Brownlee is said to have done when he was arrested, the Times reports. Investigators had been watching him for several days after identifying him as a suspect when, Stockton police spokesman Joseph Silva told the newspaper, they saw him get out of the car he was driving and approach a man in a park.

Brownlee is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday on the additional charges.

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