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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Sheila Flynn

New video released of Stockton ‘serial killer’ person of interest


City officials in Stockton, California, on Tuesday released seconds-long footage of a slender figure with an uneven gait and unusually upright posture who police would like to question in connection with the shootings of seven people in and around the port city.

Six men have been shot dead under cover of darkness while alone in dimly lit areas since April 2021, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Tuesday. One victim was white, but the rest were Hispanic males.

Chief McFadden also said that police had been able to interview a seventh victim – a homeless woman who survived an attack by what is believed to be the same perpetrator in April of last year.

The woman, who the chief described as a “light-complected” Black woman, was in her tent when she heard noises outside, he said.

“She heard someone walking around her campsite; when she came out of her tent, she encountered someone holding a gun” who then shot her, Chief McFadden said.

The female victim, who has not been indentified, described the suspect as “between 5’10 and six foot, wearing all dark clothing, wearing a dark covid-style mask that was concealing his face,” the chief said, adding that the suspect was “wearing a dark jacket as well.”

The five most recent murders happened when each male victim was alone in the late night or early morning hours in north Stockton (Stockton Police Department)

The shooter said nothing, he added, and there have been no witnesses or CCTV footage from any of the scenes.

He said ballistics had matched all of the crimes, and investigators were uncertain of motive, despite the majority of victims being Hispanic males. He said some were homeless and some were not.

“What we do believe is that it’s mission-oriented,” Chief McFadden said. “This person’s on a mission ... [that] appears to be very fluid and intentional in what that one person or people are doing.”

He said: “We have absolutely no information to know if an incident was hate or [a] hate crime. We would need to know more as to how it unfolded or what communications were made.

“We have no witness that has said this person or persons has ever said anything like that - or even spoken, for that matter.”

He advised residents of Stockton to avoid going out alone at night and to stay in well-lit areas.

“I would say everyone’s at risk,” he said. A reward for information leading to an arrest has been increased within a day from $85,000 to $115,000 as residents and businesses scramble for answers.

The shootings that sparked serial killer fears among the community and investigators began on 8 July, when 35-year-old Paul Alexander Yaw was found fatally wounded at a park in the north of the city. His mother, nurse Greta Bogrow, described the father-of-one on Facebook as a sweet boy who grew into a man with a big heart.

Two weeks after his murder, she appealed on social media for information, though she admitted she was “hesitant” but wanted to “find the person responsible and hold them accountable.”

Paul Alexander Yaw, 35, was shot dead on 8 July in Stockton - the first known victim of a suspected serial killer (Facebook/Greta Bogrow)

On 11 August, Salvador William Debudey Jr, 43, was shot dead in a parking lot along a commercial stretch with strip malls and fast-food joints. Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, was killed 19 days later; on 21 September, yet another man out alone at night, 52-year-old Juan Cruz, was shot dead at 4.27am.

Six days later, 52-year-old Lorenzo Lopez was found dead on the sidewalk of a primarily residential area.

For the first time on Friday, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a press conference that investigators believed the killings were “interconnected.”

“By definition, you could probably very well call this serial killings,” he said.

Police said the victims had been ambushed but had not been robbed, and the killings were not believed to be gang-related. They released a screen grab of a suspect in the deaths, which occurred in dimly lit locations, either late at night or in the early morning hours, where cameras failed to capture any of the crimes taking place.

Following the initial Friday press conference, police said Monday that two shootings from April 2021 had also been linked to the same perpetrator or perpetrators - the shooting of the unnammed survivor and the fatal shooting of a 40-year-old Hispanic man on 10 April 2021, in Oakland, about an hour away from Stockton, at 4.18am.

More than four dozen people have been murdered in Stockton this year, already surpassing the city’s homicide total for the entirety of 2021.

Stockton police are working with the local sheriff and other agencies such as the FBI and ATF to track down the killer or killers. Officials said Tuesday that patrols had been stepped up after dark and officers were working around the clock.

Lorenzo Lopez, 52, is believed the be the latest victim of a suspected serial killer in Stockton, California (Facebook/Cathy Lopez Leal)

Residents, meanwhile, are unsurprisingly terrified.

“I’ve had people tell me, ‘I’m not leaving my house,’” Tashante McCoy, community activisit and founder of the Owl Movement, tells The Independent. “My mom texted today and she said, ‘I’m so glad that I don’t have to go to work at night anymore.’”

Victims’ relatives, for their part, have been reaching out to each other on social media and reaffirming their commitment to getting justice for their loved ones.

“My husband my daughters father unfortunately is the second victim,” Analydia Castillon Lopez wrote on Facebook following last week’s press conference. “We want justice for our loved one.”

In reply, Greta Bogrow, wrote that her son had been the first known victim and wrote: “God rest their souls.”

Ms Lopez responded: “I am not gonna let this go. I want justice for my daughter and myself. This has caused tremendous grief for us.”

“Every day is a struggle,” Ms Bogrow responded. “I will not give up either.”

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