Photo: Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a press conference on Tuesday. (PHOTO COURTESY OF BAY CITY NEWS/CATCHLIGHT LOCAL)
At a press conference on Tuesday, Stockton police announced ballistic evidence matched homicide cases dating back to April of last year, and a person of interest has surfaced in multiple videos connected to recent killings in the city.
Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden stated that since April 2021, seven shooting victims have been tagged by investigators who have reason to believe they’re linked together. The department believes the killings are connected because victims were all killed by a firearm and were alone in dimly lit areas without cameras during the night or early morning, McFadden said last week.
The police released a video of the person of interest on Facebook. McFadden and community members, who commented under the post, said the person’s walk is distinctive. In the 12-second video, a tall, thin person is seen walking through what appears to be an apartment complex.
“We want you to notice how upright this person’s posture is,” McFadden said.
Investigators were able to match ballistic data connected from the recent series of killings to the murder of a middle-aged Hispanic man in Oakland and a Black woman in Stockton who’d been shot in August 2021 but survived, thanks to a statewide database, McFadden said.
The female shooting victim told police her assailant was a thin man about 5- feet, 10 inches to six feet tall. In her statement, she described the gunman as wearing all dark clothing and a COVID-style mask, McFadden said. The woman was outside her tent when the man shot at her, he fled after she fought back, McFadden said.
Forty-two is the average age of the mostly Hispanic male victims the suspect, or suspects, are targeting, McFadden said.
This description “absolutely could be a main target” of a perpetrator who is “on a mission,” McFadden said at Tuesday’s press conference. Investigators do not have enough evidence to confirm these murders are hate-crimes.
The San Joaquin County Medical Examiner’s Office released the names of the shooting victims who prompted the investigation, CBS13 in Sacramento reported on Monday.
Almost a year and three months after the witness was shot in Stockton, Paul Yaw, 35, was killed on Kermit Lane in July.
Thirty-four days later in August, police found Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, killed on West Lane. Then, 19 days later, Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, was shot on Hammer Lane.
On September, 22 days after Rodriquez’s murder, Juan Cruz, 52 years-old, was shot and killed on Manchester Ave. Lawrence Lopez Sr. was 54. Stockton police found him on Porter Avenue around 2 a.m. on Sept. 27. Lopez was the most recent killing.
McFadden said Stocktonians shared hundreds of tips with the police since last week’s announcement of the investigation. Any information or videos filmed at the times of homicides related to the case are welcome and no information will be turned away, said Joe Silva, a Stockton Police Department spokesman.
You can submit an anonymous tip to The Stockton Police Department (policetips@stocktonCA.gov) or StocktonCrimeStoppers.org. You can reach the police at (209) 937-8167 and Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600.
A $125,000 reward, with five thousand donated by an anonymous Stockton business owner, is being offered to anyone with information that would lead to an arrest, McFadden said.
On Wednesday at 10 a.m., Stockton Police Department will be at The Well, on Center Street, to celebrate National Coffee with a Cop day, according to a Facebook. The community is encouraged to meet bicycle and motorcycle officers and members of the UAS team.