OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Natasha LaTour said police detectives treated her like “trash” and didn’t take her seriously when they first heard her story.
In an interview with 209 Times, the 46-year-old woman described the night she was shot nearly 10 times by a masked mysterious man on April 16, 2021. She heard footsteps outside of her tent, and when she looked out, the person opened fire without saying a word. “I just saw flashes. I was really hoping his aim would be off,” LaTour told 209 Times.
Incredibly, LaTour fought back by charging at the gunman and she survived. LaTour said she crawled toward a street hoping that a passing motorists or someone nearby would see her. “Please call 911 I’m dying,” she called out.
LaTour was the first victim targeted in Stockton by a suspected serial killer, according to police.
Just six days before LaTour was shot, police believe the same person gunned down a 39-year-old man, Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, on Harmon Avenue in Oakland. Ballistics evidence linked the Oakland shooting with the Stockton shooting.
“He was a really great father. He was kind, he was a hard worker. He was well-known in Oakland,” Vasquez’s daughter, Ines Vasquez, told KRON4.
Detectives said the gunman targeted victims who were alone in the streets at night. “It definitely meets the definition of a serial killer,” officer Joseph Silva told KTXL. “What makes this different is the shooter is just looking for an opportunity. Our victims were alone in a dark area.”
LaTour says it wasn’t until more people were shot in Stockton — five fatally — that detectives started digging deeper for evidence to catch the killer. If detectives had conducted a more thorough investigation into her assailant, the person may have been caught before the serial killings unfolded, she said.
“Five people died because they didn’t listen to me,” LaTour told 209 Times.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the suspected serial killer remained at large.
Ines Vasquez told KRON4 that the person who killed her father is “heartless.” “He’s killing innocent people without caring that they have children or families. Why did he do this to my dad without knowing who he is (and) leaving his daughters behind?” she said.
The most recent killing happened on September 27. Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, was fatally shot at 1:53 a.m. on Porter Avenue in Stockton.
The Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden spoke about LaTour’s survival story at news conference last week. McFadden showed reporters surveillance video of a “person of interest” and said, “Notice how upright this person’s posture is. This person’s posture is extremely upright.”
As the lone survivor, LaTour gave the Stockton Police Department a description of the gunman. She said the shooter was thin, about 6-feet-tall, wore dark clothing, and had a COVID-style face mask on. “He looked like the Unabomber, without the glasses,” she told 209 Times.
The Stockton Police Department is working together with the Oakland Police Department for the investigation. McFadden said he assembled an “all-star team” of investigators who will catch the killer or killers responsible. “This recent string of homicides we now know, are interconnected. The task force will not stop until justice is served. We are doing everything we can to keep the city safe,” McFadden said.
Juan Miguel Vasquez Serrano, 39, of Oakland, was shot on Harmon Avenue at 4:18 a.m. on April 10, 2021. The Oakland Police Department was alerted to the shooting by its ShotSpotter gunshot audio detection system, but when officers arrived, the killer had already slipped away.
Natasha LaTour, 46, was living in a tent on the corner of Park and Union streets in Stockton on April 16, 2021. Around 3 a.m., the sound of crunching gravel alerted her that someone was coming. LaTour was trapped between a wall and a passing train, so she rushed at the firing gunman. She said the person fired more shots and then walked away as she lay in the street bleeding.
Paul Yaw, 35, of Stockton, was slain on the 5600 block of Kermit Lane at 12:31 a.m. July 8, 2022 in Stockton.
Salvador Debudey Jr., 43, of Stockton, was fatally shot on the 4900 block of West Lane at 9:49 p.m. on August 11, 2022 in Stockton.
Jonathan Hernandez Rodriguez, 21, of Stockton, was slain by a gunman on the 800 block E. Hammer Lane at 6:41 a.m. on August 30, 2022 in Stockton.
Juan Cruz, 52, of Stockton, was fatally shot on the 4400 block of Manchester Avenue at 4:27 a.m. on September 21, 2022 in Stockton.
Lawrence Lopez Sr., 54, of Stockton, was fatally shot on the 900 block of Porter Avenue at 1:53 a.m. on September 27, 2022 in Stockton.
Motive and Reward
Police do not believe the serial killings were hate crimes, gang-related, nor robberies. None of the victims were robbed after they were shot. One victim was white, one was Black, and five were Hispanic. All of the victims, except LaTour, were men. The only common thread between the victims was that they were all targeted when they were vulnerable from being alone on dark streets.
LaTour said the attack against her was completely unprovoked. “I knew it was nothing personal. Because I didn’t have an altercation, I don’t roll like that, I don’t have any problems. Unprovoked. No robbery, no words, no nothing. But the person was prepared. The gun was already out … and it was pointed at me,” LaTour told 209 Times.
LaTour said she was in a coma in the hospital for four days. When she regained consciousness, there were no police officers around to talk to, she said. “They never came to visit me. I actually had to go to them,” she told 209 Times. “They basically treated me as if it was a drug deal gone bad … as if I knew something that I wasn’t sharing. Ever since April (of 2021), it was a constant me trying to reach them.”
The Stockton Police Department did not immediately respond for comment on LaTour’s claims.
A $125,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. Police setup a tip line at 209-937-8167. You can also email information to firstname.lastname@example.org, or submit video surveillance to stocktonpdca.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/tips2022 . Stockton Crime Stoppers can be contacted at 209-946-0600 or stocktoncrimestoppers.org
On Tuesday, the Stockton Police Department re-posted on Facebook the surveillance image of the “person of interest” and listed personal safety tips for the public. Tips included:
- Whenever possible, travel with a friend.
- Stay in well-lighted areas as much as possible.
- Walk close to a curb. Avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys where someone could hide.
- Walk confidently at a steady pace.
- Make eye contact with people when walking.
- Do no respond to conversation from strangers on the street — continue walking.
- Be alert to your surroundings and the people around you — especially if you are alone or it is dark.