STOCKTON, Calif. — Police in California have linked two additional shootings to a suspected serial killer in Northern California who has killed five men since July.
Stockton police officials said late Monday night that two April 2021 shootings, including a fatal one in Oakland, have been linked to the case. The additions bring the total number of homicides to six.
“It definitely meets the definition of a serial killer,” Stockton police spokesperson Joe Silva told KRON in San Francisco. “What makes this different is the shooter is just looking for an opportunity. Our victims were alone in a dark area.”
The FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office have all joined the case, Silva told NBC News.
All seven cases have been linked to one another through ballistics or through video surveillance footage.
“Last night was the new link that expanded to Oakland,” Silva said. “Our officers are going back to more old cases we have and they’re also, obviously, reaching out to other regional law enforcement agencies to see if they’ve had any type of similar cases.”
In the Oakland shooting, officers responded around 4:18 a.m. to gunshots in the 5700 block of Harmon Avenue. The notification came through the city’s ShotSpotter gunshot detection system.
When they arrived, they found a Hispanic man suffering from gunshot wounds, authorities said. The man died at the scene.
On Tuesday, the Alameda County Coronor’s Bureau identified that victim as Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, 39, of Oakland.
In the second incident six days later, a 46-year-old Black woman was at Park Street and Union Street in Stockton around 3:20 a.m. when she was shot multiple times. The woman, whose name has not been released, survived the shooting.
KRON reported that the surviving victim gave police a description of the gunman, who she said was about 6 feet tall and wore dark clothing.
The unidentified woman told police she was inside her tent when she heard footsteps outside. She opened the tent flap to look outside and the gunman opened fire, the news station reported.
The man never spoke to the victim, Stockton police Chief Stanley McFadden told the station.
“There were no words mentioned at all,” the chief said.
Watch Chief Stanley McFadden talk about the case below, courtesy of Fox 40 in Sacramento.
Stockton police officials announced last week that they were investigating a series of at least five murders since July that appear to be the work of the same killer or killers. Those victims were identified as Paul Alexander Yaw, 35; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21; Juan Cruz, 52; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54.
Authorities released a grainy surveillance photo of a person of interest in the case. McFadden emphasized at a news conference, however, that it is unknown how the person is connected to the case.
The person could be a suspect, a witness or have no involvement at all.
The city, Crime Stoppers, local businesses and the ATF have also pooled their resources to offer $125,000 in reward money for information leading to an arrest.
On Friday, McFadden said each killing happened after dark, either late at night or early in the morning. Each involved a single victim who was alone, and each victim was ambushed, according to NBC News.
“It wasn’t a robbery,” McFadden said. “Items aren’t being stolen. They’re not talking about any gang activity in the area or anything. It’s just element of surprise.”
Aside from Yaw, all the male Stockton victims have been Hispanic. Several of the victims were also homeless.
Authorities have said that they have no evidence that the murders were hate crimes, but Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln II expressed worry that the Hispanic community is being targeted.
“The Hispanic community is the largest population in the city,” Lincoln said, according to KRON. “Well over 42 percent. It’s very concerning.”
Anyone with information about the murders is asked to call the Stockton Police Department on its tip line at 209-937-8167 or email detectives at email@example.com. Tips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 209-946-0600 or online at StocktonCrimeStoppers.org.
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