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Mother Of Potential Stockton Serial Killer Victim Praises Police Chief At Candlelight Vigil

Loved ones and city leaders gathered at Stockton city hall to remember the six men who were murdered in what police believe was the work of a serial killer. 

By Jax Miller
California Police Hunt Possible Serial Killer Targeting Men

Loved ones and city officials gathered in Stockton, California, to remember the six known murder victims of a possible serial killer.

On Wednesday evening, a crowd gathered for a candlelight vigil in front of Stockton City Hall to honor the five men killed within the city limits and another man killed 70 miles west in Oakland, as reported by NBC Sacramento affiliate KCRA-TV. All six men were shot to death by what police believe was a common killer.

Truck driver Wesley Brownlee, 43, was officially charged with murder on Tuesday for the three most recent victims: Jonathan Rodriguez Hernandez, 21; Juan Carlos Carranza-Cruz, 52; and Lorenzo Lopez Sr., 54.

Pauline Lopez, the mother of the most recent victim, Lorenzo Lopez — who was gunned down on Sept. 27 — praised the efforts of the Stockton Police Department at Wednesday’s vigil, namely Police Chief Stanley McFadden, according to ABC News.

RELATED: Truck Driver Accused Of Stockton Serial Slayings Formally Charged With Three Counts Of Murder

“I want to thank him so much because he lifted my spirits, and he held me up when I felt like I was falling down and falling apart,” said the grieving mother. “It hurts deep inside, and it never goes away. But we got justice.”

Loved ones described Lopez as a musician and a father to six children.

“My brother was everything,” said Lopez’s sister, Pia Lopez. “I’m going to never hear his laughter.”

A police handout of Wesley Brownlee

Throughout the month of October, Chief McFadden issued several appeals as his department worked “around the clock” to identify a suspect in the men’s murders — including the publication of a photo showing the suspect in dark-colored clothes. Investigators said the elusive killer attacked the men while they were alone in poorly-lit areas at night.

Many on social media have thanked McFadden for his transparency and vigilance, especially after investigators arrested Brownlee early Saturday morning, allegedly “while he was out hunting” for his next victim.

McFadden also spoke at the candlelight vigil, touching on the emotions felt by those who knew the victims.

“As the investigation continues, [investigators] got to learn about the people that had lost their lives, about the great things that they’ve done, and about the heartache of those that are the survivors of those who are no longer with us,” McFadden stated.

Wednesday’s event was organized by online grassroots newscast 209 Times and others who were live on the scene, according to KCRA. Founder Motecuzoma Sanchez hoped the vigil could draw attention to murders around the Stockton area that have yet to be solved.

“My heart is with you. Your city is with each and every one of you,” Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said Wednesday. “We stand with every single one of you, and I know that there are no words that I can say to bring back the loss, but just know your community is praying for you.”

Also in attendance was San Joaquin County District Attorney-elect Ron Freitas and San Joaquin County Sheriff Patrick Withrow, according to CBS Bay Area affiliate KPIX-TV.

Although Wesley Brownlee was charged with only three murders, investigators believe he is also responsible for the shooting deaths of Paul Yaw, 35, and Salvador William Debudey Jr., 43, all five of whom were killed between July and September in the northern part of the city.

Authorities also linked the five men’s murders to the April 2021 Oakland fatal shooting of Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, 39, and the April 2021 attempted murder of Natasha LaTour, 46.

LaTour, the only known survivor of the possible serial killer, was also in attendance on Wednesday, according to KPIX-TV. She was also there when Brownlee appeared in court on Tuesday, expressing frustration that no one has been charged for her shooting.

San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said earlier this week that her office was “confident additional charges will be added” in Brownlee’s case.

Although several victims — including LaTour and Lopez — were reportedly unhoused, and the majority of them Hispanic, investigators have not released what they believe was the killer’s possible motive.

"This is very, very, very hard for me,” Pauline Lopez told the Bay Area outlet. “This is the hardest thing anybody can ever go through is losing your son or your daughter to violence.”

Brownlee has yet to enter a plea and is scheduled for arraignment on Nov. 14.