Hunt for California serial killer on 'unknown mission', as police link seven shooting attacks

5 October 2022, 18:02 | Updated: 5 October 2022, 18:03

Stockton police dept. released a grainy image of a "person of interest"
Stockton police dept. released a grainy image of a "person of interest". Picture: US police

By Asher McShane

Police are hunting for a suspected serial killer in California who they believe is on some sort of "mission", though they remained baffled as to what his motive for the killings may be.

So far a gunman has shot dead six men and wounded a woman over year-and-half-long killing spree in the California cities Stockton and Oakland.

A $125,000 (£109,000) reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest.

The victims seem to have little in common, no particular ethnic group appears to have been targeted and though some were homeless, others weren't.

None of the people attacked were robbed or beaten and they don't seem to have known each other.

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"We don't know what the motive is. What we do believe is that it's mission-oriented," Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said. "This person's on a mission."

The shooter's first victim was Juan Vasquez Serrano, 39, who was shot multiple times in Oakland in April last year.

Days after, a woman was shot, but managed to scare off the attacker despite being wounded.

She described the assailant as wearing a dark-coloured hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up, dark-coloured trousers and an all-black COVID-style face mask.

It appears the killer laid low for over a year, before turning his attention to the Stockton area, a city around 70 miles from Oakland.

This year, on July 8, 35-year-old Paul Yaw was shot dead, followed by Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, on August 11; Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, on August 30; Juan Cruz, 52, who died on September 21.

Lorenzo Lopez Sr., 54, who was shot dead on September 27 and is the latest victim.

Speaking to a local TV station, his brother Jerry said Lorenzo "was just a person who was out here at the wrong place, at the wrong time, at the wrong circumstance."

He added:"It's hard to process that this has happened."

Stockton Police said four of the victims were walking on their own while the fifth was sitting in his car.

It's believed the same gun was used for both the Oakland and Stockton shootings.

Police have admitted they have little to go on, other than some indistinct CCTV footage.

"To be honest, we just don't know," Stockton Police Officer Joseph Silva said. "This person or people who are out doing this, they are definitely very bold and brazen."