Updated 1:35 p.m.
Stockton police officials announced they’ve discovered two more victims in a series of connected shootings, bringing the total to seven — one in Oakland and six in Stockton. All but one of these shootings was fatal.
Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said they noticed an “irregularity in the standard pattern of crime this year” during crime data analysis and connected the shootings through ballistics reports.
“It takes a long time to confirm the information, but we do have ballistic evidence linking our cases and accompanied with some video footage as well,” he added.
McFadden said the department has formed a task force of officers and outside agencies to investigate the shootings.
“By definition, the shootings are a series of killings, and so we do believe we could have [a] potential serial killer,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday. “That's how we're going to treat it as such.”
The first shooting in the series happened more than a year ago, McFadden said, in April 2021 when a 40-year-old man was shot and killed in Oakland. The most recent incident occurred on Sept. 27 on Porter Avenue in Stockton, when a 54-year-old man was shot and killed.
Police say a majority, but not all, of the victims are middle-aged Hispanic men. McFadden said the motive of the shooter — or shooters — is still unclear.
“We don't know what to make, because we've had male, we've had female, we've had different races,” he said. “So at this time, we don't know exactly what they're targeting. We've had folks that live in homes, we've had folks that don't live in homes, so at this point we just don't know.”
One victim, a woman in Stockton, survived the shooting and recounted her story to investigators.
“There [are] multiple shots at her as she tried to defend herself by charging at the suspect,” McFadden said of the encounter. “She described that person between 5-foot-10 and 6 feet, wearing all dark clothing [and] wearing a COVID-style mask that was covering his face.”
The woman told investigators that the shooter was alone and spoke no words during the interaction, McFadden said.
Information about the suspect or suspects is limited, but police have released a surveillance image from the scene of a shooting.
Photo of a "Person of Interest" in a series of homicides being committed in Stockton. There is an $85,000 reward for info that leads to an arrest. Please call SPD or @StocktonCrime with info or scan the QR code to send any pertinent videos related to this investigation. pic.twitter.com/i2q4t8C6bg— Stockton Police Dept (@StocktonPolice) September 30, 2022
Police also released video of a person of interest in the investigation at the press conference on Tuesday.
“We've seen this person of interest on more than one of the incidences, so it's absolutely someone we want to talk to and need to talk to,” he said. “And again, we have not seen this person commit a crime, or anyone for that matter. But that's what we're looking into. That's why we need the community's help to help bring that person to us.”
McFadden warned the public to avoid isolated spots and travel in well-lit areas.
“All the time we say be aware of your surroundings, all the time we say if you’re going to be alone at dark, be with someone else, all the time we say try to be in lighted conditions,” he said. “If you do that, it’s very unlikely that you will encounter this person or persons.”
A reward for information about the case was established on Sept. 30 and has reached $125,000. Police officials say local businesses and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have donated to the reward fund.
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