State Watch

California police connect two more shootings to series of murders

(Getty Images)

Police investigating a series of mysterious, after-dark murders in Stockton, Calif., have tied two more shootings to the criminal probe.

The Stockton Police Department is offering a $95,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of an unknown individual or individuals responsible for five local shootings in recent months.

Late Monday, police tied two more shootings to the case: an April 10, 2021, fatal shooting of a 40-year-old man in Oakland and an April 16, 2021, shooting of a 46-year-old woman who survived her injuries.

Both shootings occurred in the early morning hours and in the dark, similar to the five shootings that have unfolded around Stockton from July 8 to Sept. 27. Police have tied the two shootings last year to the five this year based on ballistic evidence.

Stockton police officer Joseph Silva said the unknown person involved in the shootings “meets the definition of a serial killer,” noting that none of the victims were robbed and there is no apparent connection to drugs or gangs.

“What makes this different is the shooter is just looking for an opportunity, and unfortunately our victims were alone in a dark area,” Silva told The Associated Press.

The troubling series of murders has gripped Stockton, a city of around 320,000 people about an hour outside of the state capitol of Sacramento.

The five Stockton victims killed this year were all walking or near their cars during the night or early morning hours. Except for the first victim, all were Latino men.

Those victims are: Paul Yaw, 35, who died on July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, fatally shot on Aug. 11; Jonathan Rodriguez, 21, killed on Aug. 30; Juan Cruz, 52, killed on Sept. 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, killed on Sept. 27.

Police have released one grainy image capturing the back of an individual in black clothing, but otherwise have no identifying information about the suspect.

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference last week that officers have located a person of interest but did not offer any other details. He said it’s possible there is more than one person connected to the slayings.

McFadden explained there are no witnesses because of the location and timing of the murders, muddying the case, and asked for the public’s help in offering their eyes and ears to assist the investigation.

The police chief cautioned the community to be aware that the families of the victims are “deeply touched by this homicide.”

“I want to bring closure to them,” he said. “The men and women in this department will continue to work hard to bring justice.”

Tags after-dark murders California California California Joseph Silva Serial Killer shootings shootings Stanley McFadden Stockton

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