STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Several weeks after Stockton Police first announced that they were investigating “patterns” in a series of killings in the city, the police chief and other city and law enforcement officials announced Saturday afternoon the arrest of a suspect in connection with the crimes.
The suspect was identified at the news conference as 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee, who was arrested as he was “following patterns that were consistent with what we had seen,” said Chief Stanley McFadden.
Law enforcement agencies from across California and the country have been investigating five deadly shootings that occurred in Stockton between July and September of this year. All five victims were men between the ages of 21 and 54.
Police later said that the cases were connected to two shootings that occurred in April 2021, one in Oakland and one in Stockton. A 40-year-old man was killed in Oakland, and a 46-year-old woman was shot in Stockton and survived.
An amended complaint filed by the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office against Brownlee in December identified a second victim in Alameda County: Mervin Harmon. The complaint alleges he was killed around April 16, 2021.
The unsolved shootings rattled Stockton and nearby communities, leading many residents to ask themselves who could commit such crimes.
At the news conference, McFadden said that when the suspect was arrested, “he was mobile, looking around and moving again. We thought that, for the safety of the public, it was time to bring him in.”
When and where was the suspect arrested?
The police chief said the arrest occurred near Village Green Drive and Winslow (Way), in North Stockton, around 2 a.m. the morning of October 15.
At the time of the arrest, the suspect was wearing “dark clothing and a mask around his neck,” said McFadden, adding that the suspect was in possession of a firearm.
What was the suspect doing when he was arrested?
The suspect was moving around the city of Stockton at the time of his arrest, said McFadden.
At the news conference, McFadden described the suspect’s early-morning actions as “hunting,” and at one point said that “he was on a mission to kill.”
A surveillance team was following the suspect as he “went mobile” in a vehicle, but no details were given about the vehicle.
How did investigators find the suspect?
The police chief said that the arrest happened in two parts, community tips and “old-fashion police work.”
Officials had activated a QR code and a special website in order for the public to submit photos and videos that could help in the case.
McFadden said that, based on tips to Stockton Crime Stoppers, a surveillance team was able to locate the residence of the suspect.
Officials did not reveal where the residence is, but said that it was “not far from one of the homicides,” and that a SWAT team conducted a search of the residence on Saturday morning.
What do investigators know about the suspect?
Chief McFadden said at the news conference that the suspect “has a criminal history,” and that it is believed that the suspect “has lived in different cities in addition to Stockton.”
“I know that he has a criminal history, but not to the extent of knowing the crimes,” said McFadden.
In early October, police released surveillance video of a person of interest in the case. At the time, McFadden said that the person had two distinguishing characteristics — an uneven stride and an upright posture.
What happens next in the case?
“Just because an arrest was made does not mean that the investigation stops,” said McFadden.
He added, “we still need more tips (sent) to our investigators.”
At the news conference, the San Joaquin County District Attorney, Tori Verber Salazar, spoke briefly, saying that on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. the suspect will have his court arraignment, where the first charges against him will be announced.
“We most likely will bring more charges,” Verber Salazar said.