Saturday, January 28

Residents afraid to venture out at night

STOCKTON — Renea Debudey’s son took two bullets to the side late one night in August here and died in a patch of dirt alongside a Popeye’s restaurant. It was dark, deserted.

She didn’t know it at the time, but Salvador Debudey Jr. was what police now believe to be the fourth victim of a gun-toting serial killer who since April 2021 has left five men dead in Stockton — plus a woman shot and wounded in her tent, and yet another man shot dead 70 miles away in Oakland.

Renea Debudey buried her 43-year-old son more than a month ago. And she’s still scared. Like much of this farmland Central Valley city of 320,000.

“Everybody’s afraid to go out anywhere, especially after dark because there’s someone killing people for no reason,” said Debudey, 62. “It’s terrifying. I mean, someone is just walking up to people and shooting them. Which one of us will be next?”

The shooting deaths here all happened in the north side of town between July 8 and Sept. 27, but detectives only connected them over the past week — and that has sent fear sweeping through the entire city.

Arturo Peña, 38, hangs out at the St. Mary’s Food Distribution Center in Stockton on Tuesday. Peña said that people have kept rocks and sticks next to them when sleeping outside since news of the serial killer broke.

Santiago Mejia, Staff / The Chronicle

The fear amped further when police announced Tuesday that ballistics have connected these slayings to the shooting death more than a year ago of 40-year-old Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano in Oakland — plus the gunshot wounding of a yet-unnamed woman a few days later in Stockton as she came out of the tent she was living in.

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