Stockton police are investigating a person of interest in connection with five similar fatal shootings that have occurred across north Stockton over the past two months, Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Friday.
Police shared a blurry image of the person of interest pulled from security camera video: it showed a thin person dressed in dark clothing and photographed from behind while walking.
There are currently no other suspects, McFadden said. Police cannot rule out the possibility that more than one person could be involved, according to McFadden.
The five shootings police are investigating as part of the pattern of homicides took place north of the Calaveras River and east of I-5 between July 8 and Sept. 27, according to a police department statement. They include:
The July 8 fatal shooting of a 35-year-old white man in the 5600 block of Kermit Lane at about 12:31 a.m.
The Aug. 11 fatal shooting of a 43-year-old Hispanic man in the 4900 block of West Lane at about 9:49 a.m.
The Aug. 30 fatal shooting of a 21-year-old Hispanic man in the 800 block of East Hammer Lane at about 6:41 a.m.
The Sept. 21 fatal shooting of a 52-year-old Hispanic man in the 4400 block of Manchester Avenue at about 4:27 a.m.
The Sept. 27 fatal shooting of a 54-year-old Hispanic man in the 900 block of Porter Avenue at about 1:53 a.m.
Although four of the five victims were Hispanic, there is "no indication that these are hate crimes," McFadden said. Some of the victims were homeless, he added.
The motive behind the homicides is "not at all" clear to investigators yet, McFadden said, but police do not believe the killings are gang-related.
The five fatal shootings occurred in dimly-lit areas overshadowed by trees, some close to apartment buildings, with no cameras, the police chief said. Investigators do not have video footage of any of the homicides in progress, or of a person of interest holding a gun, he said.
"Either this person or persons are very lucky with choosing where they're going, or they're doing their homework to go to locations where they feel there's no cameras," McFadden said.
While referring to the killings as a "series of homicides," McFadden stopped short of calling the perpetrator or perpetrators a serial killer.
"I don't know what this person is," he said of the person of interest whose photo was shared.
"We have a series of homicides (where) we have no evidence to tell if there are two or three" perpetrators, he said.
"By definition, you probably could very well call this a serial killing." Later he referred to them as "a series of killings."
ICYMI: Police investigating string of late-night killings in Stockton
At a press conference Wednesday, McFadden stated emphatically that police "have been provided absolutely zero evidence that leads us to believe that one individual is running rampant in the city of Stockton killing people." He said on Friday that he stood by his statement.
"At that time we had assumptions, but not facts. Now we know we have certain facts." McFadden said he was briefed on the person of interest Friday morning.
Police have gone door to door in the neighborhoods where the homicides occurred to inform people about how to keep themselves safe.
On Friday McFadden reiterated earlier warnings to travel with a companion if you must go out at night but to stay indoors if possible.
"Factual information will be brought on a regular basis as the investigation permits," he said. "We need to respect the survivors that have lost people to gun violence."
"There are grieving families that are deeply touched by these homicides, and I want to bring closure to them."
Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers business, housing, and land use. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Police share photo of person of interest in series of Stockton killings