A suspected ‘serial killer’ is on the loose in northern California after six people have been shot dead over the past 18 months.
Police admit they have been left baffled as the gunman appears to be “on a mission” although his motive is unclear.
He has so far struck seven times, shooting dead six men and wounding one woman, in a killing spree in the Stockton and Oakland areas since April 2021, with five of the fatal attacks happening in the last three months.
None of the victims appear to have known each other and none of them were beaten or robbed before the killings.
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While some victims were homeless, others were not, and the shootings also do not appear to be drug or gang related.
“We don't know what the motive is. What we do believe is that it's mission-oriented,” said Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden on Tuesday. “This person's on a mission."
One person of interest is being sought in connection with the killings and there is a €126,700 ($125,000) reward for information leading to an arrest.
Police have released surveillance footage of the suspect showing them from behind, dressed in dark clothing and wearing a black cap.
The suspect has appeared on video at several of the crime scenes but no evidence links them directly to the shootings, Chief McFadden said.
Ballistics tests have also linked the same gun to all seven shootings.
The first victim Juan Vasquez Serrano, aged 39, was shot multiple times in Oakland at around 4.15am on April 10, 2021.
Less than a week later in Stockton a 46-year-old woman was targeted in a non-fatal shooting at about 3.20am on April 16, 2021. She told police that she heard someone outside her tent and when she came out the suspect shot his gun at her several times, wounding her.
However, she survived the attack as she began walking towards the shooter in self-defence and they lowered the gun and stopped shooting.
The mystery killer then went quiet for more than a year, with no other shootings linked to the same suspect before the first case this summer.
The next five victims were shot in Stockton between July 8 and September 27 and have been identified as Paul Alexander Yaw, 35, Salvador William Dubedy Jr., 43, Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, Juan Cruz, 52 and Lorenzo Lopez, 54.
Police have said all the shootings are linked but have not figured out what is the “mission” behind the violence.
Stockton police officer Joseph Silva said: “This person or people who are out doing this, they are definitely very bold and brazen.”
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