Police are investigating a pattern among recent homicides in Stockton in which victims were killed while outdoors alone late at night, Police Chief Stanley McFadden said at a news conference Wednesday, Sept. 28.
"We do see some similarity where it's really areas of darkness, it's really areas where the person is by themselves, maybe not even knowing it's coming, and that's kind of what (we're) looking into in some of the most recent ones," McFadden said Wednesday.
McFadden did not say how many homicides police believe fit the pattern. Police began questioning whether there was a pattern to the homicides "in the last month," he said.
"We do not know if it is one suspect or multiple suspects," police said in a statement.
Police chose today to disclose that they are investigating a pattern because when something like the recent series of homicides occurs, the department wants to get its voice out about what's going on, said Officer Joseph Silva, police spokesman.
Four fatal shootings have been reported in Stockton in September, and six have been reported since Aug. 28. In three of the four September homicides, police were called between 1 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., according to police.
On Tuesday, Sept. 27, a man was found laying on a sidewalk on Porter Avenue suffering fatal gunshot wounds at about 2 a.m. police said. On Sept. 21, a man was found laying on a sidewalk with fatal gunshot wounds near Manchester Avenue and Rosemarie Lane police said.
In a Sept. 20 homicide on Sikh Temple Street, the victim was found fatally shot in a vehicle at about 1 a.m., according to police.
McFadden addressed social media claims that the homicides may have been committed by a serial killer.
"I know there's been talk on media and social media that there's a serial killer in the city of Stockton," McFadden said.
"We have been provided absolutely zero evidence that leads us to believe that one individual is running rampant in the city of Stockton killing people."
A screenshot of text messages stating "there is a serial killer in Stockton" and attributed to City Councilmember Kimberly Warmsley have circulated on local social media pages.
Warmsely said she did not write or authorize the statement and that it took social media posts she had made out of context.
In addition to occurring at night to isolated victims, McFadden said, the homicides have occurred in areas with tree cover, low lighting and no cameras or witnesses. The victims had not been robbed, and the homicides have not been clustered in a particular neighborhood, he said.
The police chief advised residents to travel in groups if they are out late at night, but to stay indoors if possible. State and county law enforcement are assisting in the investigation, he said.
"I'd appreciate if we could all be reviewing our (security) cameras, (to) see what's happening (at) night," McFadden said.
"Could it be one person? I guess it could be. Could it be multiple people? Absolutely."
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 investigating similar killings of lone victims at night