STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) – The man suspected of killing six men and wounding a woman in a shooting spree in Northern California has a criminal history that includes traffic violations and drug convictions, authorities said Monday.
Stockton police arrested Wesley Brownlee, 43, on Saturday after watching him drive around the city, armed with a gun and possibly “looking for another victim,” police said.
In January 1999, Brownlee was sentenced to two years in prison in Alameda County, which includes the city of Oakland, for possession and sale of a controlled substance, the California Department of Corrections said. He was released on parole in August 1999 after serving seven months.
Brownlee was convicted again in Alameda County in December 2001 and sentenced to three years for the same crime. He was released on parole in May 2003 and released on parole three years later.
Prosecutors in San Joaquin County, which includes Stockton, were working Monday with the city’s police department to review the evidence and expect to file charges Tuesday, said Elisa Bubak, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor’s office.
It was not immediately known if Brownlee had an attorney available to comment on his behalf.
Court documents show he was first arrested at age 15 in Alameda County on suspicion of selling crack cocaine and placed under house arrest, the East Bay Times reported.
In 1997, at the age of 18, Brownlee was arrested again and charged with possession of crack cocaine and sentenced to three years probation. His probation was revoked a year later after he sold cocaine to an undercover cop, and in 1999 he was sentenced to two years in state prison and sent to San Quentin, the paper said.
Brownlee grew up in Oakland just six blocks from where the Oakland victim was killed, the East Bay Times reported, citing court records. All of the Stockton murders occurred near the addresses listed for Brownlee and his relatives, KXTV-TV reported.
Investigators said ballistics tests and video evidence linked the crimes. A police photo showed a black and gray weapon allegedly carried by the suspect. It appeared to be a semi-automatic pistol containing some non-metallic materials.
Police said after Brownlee’s arrest that he was dressed in black, had a mask around his neck and a gun, and that he may have been looking for another victim when he was arrested while driving around Stockton, where five men were ambushed and shot dead between July 8 and September 27. Four victims were walking and one was in a parked car.
Police believe the same shooter is responsible for the killing in Oakland in April 2021, about 110 kilometers away, and the wounding of a woman in Stockton a week later.
At Saturday’s press conference, a minute’s silence was observed for the victims.
Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, was shot and killed in Oakland on April 10, 2021, and Natasha LaTour, 46, was shot and killed in Stockton on April 16 of that year but survived. The five men killed in Stockton this year are Paul Yaw, 35, who died July 8; Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, who died on August 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, who died on August 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who died on September 21; and Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, who died Sept. 27.
After receiving hundreds of tips, investigators located and watched where Brownlee lived. They observed his patterns, determined he was looking for another victim and arrested him, authorities said.
Police said some of the victims were homeless, but not all. No one was beaten or robbed, and the woman who survived says her attacker didn’t say anything.