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October 11, 2022
On the afternoon of October 4, 2022, the Stockton Police Department released a statement to the public regarding a potential serial killer in the North California area. The city of Stockton is located on the San Joaquin River, in California’s Central Valley, around sixty miles east of San Francisco.
After a cluster of shooting murders in the Stockton area were linked by ballistic evidence, Police announced to the public that they believed they had a serial killer on their hands, with motive unknown.
The first shooting took place in the early hours of April 10, 2021, in Oakland, California and left a 40-year-old man dead.
Less than a week later, at 3:20am on April 16, a woman sleeping in a tent on the streets of Stockton was disturbed by approaching footsteps. Natasha LaTour emerged from the tent to be met with the sight of a gun pointed at her and was shot multiple times as a train rolled by in the distance.
She ran at the shooter and he stumbled, but continued to shoot.
Her attacker didn’t utter a word throughout the ordeal and after shooting the 46-year-old over nine times, the assailant walked away.
LaTour described the man as wearing a surgical mask, the kind worn to protect against the Covid-19 virus, as well as dark clothing and a hooded sweatshirt, with the hood pulled up. He was also described as being on the taller side, between 5"10 - 6", and of slender build.
When she reported the attack to police, LaTour said she felt as though the police didn't care:
"They basically treated me as if it was a drug deal gone bad, as if I knew something that I wasn’t sharing. Throughout this process, ever since April, ever since I got out of the hospital, it was constantly me trying to reach them. I don't know if they believed it or not, but what I do know, and what’s been made very apparent, is that they just didn’t care."
Over a year later, on July 8, 2022, 35-year-old Paul Alexander Yaw was shot and killed in Stockton. This case was linked to the same person, or persons, who shot the previous victims, although investigators could not ascertain why there was such a lengthy period of time between the crimes.
The killer struck again just over a month later on the night of August 11, 2022, when he shot and killed 43-year-old Salvador Debudey. Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez was the next victim; he was shot in Stockton early in the morning of August 30, 2022.
There were two more shootings in September, in which both men died. On September 21, 2022, 52-year-old Juan Cruz was shot and killed at 4:27am and less than a week later on September 27, 2022, 54-year-old Lawrence Lopez Sr. was killed at approximately 1:53am.
Although it was initially reported that the victims did not seem to share any specific traits linking them to one another, it has been noted the majority of the victims, but not all, are Hispanic males and the majority of the victims were in the Stockton area.
Although the killer had every opportunity to rob his victims or take their vehicles- he didn’t.
"What we seem to have in common is probably complexion -- it has been folks that are different races, but they have a similar complexion …The location, the environments have been consistent: It's very dark locations, it's locations where there's not very many witnesses around," said Chief Stanley McFadden of the Stockton P.D
Four of the victims had been walking by themselves and one had been in his car when he was attacked.
By September 30, 2022, The Stockton Police Department made a public statement in which they said they believed the murders in 2022 were connected. They released an image, a still from security footage, showing the dark silhouette of whom they believed to be a person of interest in the case. It is unclear, at the time of writing, if the individual in the video is a suspect or a witness.
The full video footage was released a few days later and can be viewed here on the Stockton PD Twitter account:
The following text accompanied the video:
Homicide Series Update: Today Chief McFadden released a video of the "Person of Interest" in regard to this series. If you have any info, please call 209-937-8167. There is a $125,000 reward for info that leads to an arrest.
Chief Stanley McFadden of the Stockton P.D asked the public to pay close attention to the uneven stride of the person in the video. The man was present near at least two of the crime scenes
By early October, the Stockton PD revealed that the earlier shootings in 2021 were ballistically linked and the suspect has been described as a “serial killer on a mission” in recent reports. When asked about why the killer seemingly stopped killing for over a year, McFadden answered: “I have absolutely no answer as to why that pistol went dormant for over 400 days.”
The killer's crimes, which saw a total of six dead and one wounded, have spanned over a year and a half and seventy miles, and police are baffled by the assailant’s motivation.
Joseph Silva, a Stockton Police Officer, said: "This person or people who are out doing this, they are definitely very bold and brazen. It seems that this person or persons is very focused on the killing -- and very calm and confident afterwards. This is a person that lurks in the shadows. Our victims are being caught by surprise."
The killer has not yet been apprehended and those in the Stockton area should remain vigilant.
March 14, 2023