A man suspected of killing six people in a series of killings that left a California community on edge for weeks has been arrested, police announced Saturday.
The suspect, identified as 43-year-old Wesley Brownlee, was arrested by police in Stockton around 2 a.m. Saturday. Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at the time of the arrest that a surveillance team was following Brownlee driving in his car, and after observing his behavior, they determined that he seemed to be “on a mission to kill.”
“He was out hunting,” McFadden told reporters at a news conference.
The chief said that Brownlee, who lives in Stockton, was wearing dark clothing and a mask around his neck when he was taken into custody. Police also located a firearm in his possession.
“Some of the patterns were consistent,” McFadden said. “So for the safety of the public, we decided to stop and apprehend this person.”
Since early July, Stockton has experienced a string of nighttime killings that have gripped the community. Five men were gunned down in poorly lit areas of the central California city. Last month, police released a silhouette of the suspect and offered an $85,000 award that was later increased to $125,000 for information leading to an arrest. The department also opened a community tip line, which McFadden pointed to as he thanked community members who provided information that helped build a suspect profile.
“This arrest happened in two parts,” he said. “One was community tips, and the second was good old-fashioned police work.”
After opening the Stockton investigation, police linked an April 2021 killing in Oakland to the series. They also determined that a shooting in Stockton that occurred that year six days later, on April 16, was connected. The victim in that shooting, an unsheltered woman, survived.
Police believe that all of the shootings were committed with the same weapon. A motive was still under investigation on Saturday.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said her office is still preparing charges to file against Brownlee. He is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
"The crime was solved because we’re Stocktonians," Salazar said. "You don’t come to our house and bring this reign of terror."