STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — It’s been a week since Stockton police announced that a “series of killings” throughout the city and Oakland were linked through ballistic evidence. Police also released a video of a person of interest walking around an apartment complex.
The series of shootings have occurred since April 2021 with six of them in Stockton and another one in Oakland.
Out of the shootings in Stockton, only one of the victims survived. As for the other six victims, Five of them were Hispanic men while the other was a white male.
Although there’s no official word from law enforcement that the victims were targeted for their race or ethnicity, the number of deaths of the five Hispanic men — four of who were in Stockton — has led to concern in the community.
The concern has led city leaders and law enforcement to inform the city’s Hispanic community and provide safety tips.
Recently, Stockton City Councilmember Kimberly Warmsley and Stockton Police Officer Joe Silva did some outreach speaking to the congregation at Iglesia Luterana Santa Maria Peregina, an independent Lutheran church in Stockton.
The church’s congregation consists of Spanish speakers and its sermons are mostly conducted in Spanish.
“There’s a lot of anxiety and fear out there,” Rev. Nelson Rabell-Gonzalez with the church told FOX40 News in a phone interview. “This is good for them to hear all the different agencies that are working together.”
“There are different agencies working to solve this so that brings a measure of comfort to the community,” Rabell-Gonzalez continued.
The four Hispanic men who lost their lives in Stockton were Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, Juan Cruz, 52, Lawerence Lopez Sr., 54, and Salvador Debudey, 43. The fifth Hispanic man was Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, who was identified as the victim in Oakland.
The other two victims are Paul Yaw and a 46-year-old Black woman who survived after being shot near Park and Union Streets in Stockton.
The congregation at the church mainly consists of Spanish speakers who are farm workers. They typically work either early in the morning or late-night hours, Rabell-Gonzalez said.
Rabell-Gonzalez explained their concerns about working during those hours, as its dark outside and considering the string of homicides that happened during the early morning hours or late at night.
Safety tips from Warmsley and Silva included staying in groups, being aware of your surroundings, and avoiding being alone when it’s dark.
Based on what Warmsley and Silva said, the church put together safety tips in Spanish in a flier, which is posted on its Facebook.
According to U.S. Census data, Stockton’s Hispanic and Latino population is at 43.5%.
Rabell-Gonzalez hopes communication continues between officials and the Hispanic and Latino community in Stockton, which he says feels vulnerable at the moment.
“Particularly those communities that feel more at-risk because of the work they do because of the hours they work,” Rabell-Gonzalez said. “That’s what I feel needs to continue to happen.”