By Christian Martinez
Los Angeles Times
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LOS ANGELES — A string of five homicides in Stockton reported since the beginning of July are related, city police confirmed Friday, and a person of interest is being sought.
The first killing was reported July 8, with homicides following on Aug. 11, Aug. 30, Sept. 21 and Tuesday, police said. All of the incidents were reported as shooting deaths, with all but the first victim being identified as Hispanic men ages 21 to 54. The first was identified as a 35-year-old white man.
“It’s just people caught by surprise,” Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden said Friday at a news conference. “It wasn’t a robbery, items aren’t being stolen and they’re not talking about any gang activity in the area or anything.”
The homicides all occurred in the evening or early morning hours, and each victim was alone at the time, police said.
“By definition, you could probably very well call this a serial killer, right,” McFadden said. “But at this time, we don’t know if it’s a person, two or three. We just don’t know.”
When questioned further, he stopped short of labeling the suspect as a serial killer.
“I think we need to focus on a series of killings that are connected, that are resulting in loss of lives,” he said. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter who the perpetrator is, someone’s getting buried and that’s a problem with me.”
McFadden said none of the crimes have been captured on camera and there is no indication that the killings were gang-related or racially motivated.
“We really don’t know how things are playing out just because of a lack of witnesses,” McFadden said. “I can’t say it enough: We need [the public’s] help.”
On Friday, Stockton police shared a photo of a person of interest but did not say if the person was considered a suspect or witness.
“I don’t know what this person is,” McFadden said. “I don’t know if this person just happened to be in the area.”
“We need the help of the community in those areas,” McFadden said. “Look at your Ring cameras, look at whatever footage you have going back to these dates.”
His department announced that the city is offering a $75,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest. Stockton Crime Stoppers is offering an additional $10,000.
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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
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