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Killings of 5 people in California linked, say police

A total of $85,000 has been awarded for information on arrests in five fatal shootings since July in Stockton, California, that investigators believe are related, police said.

After reviewing surveillance footage, detectives have tracked down an unidentified “person of interest” in the killings, Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden wrote on the department’s Facebook page on Saturday. Police released a grainy still image of a man filmed from behind, dressed in all black and wearing a black hat.

Police told CBS News that there is also firearm evidence to tie the murders together.

McFadden said the latest murder occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, when a 54-year-old man was shot in a residential area north of the city.

Police said he was the fifth person within a few square miles to be fatally shot since July 8. Detectives believe all five murders are related “based on our investigation and the reports we have received,” McFadden said.

“By definition, you might very well call this serial killing,” McFadden told CBS News.

Police said the victims were walking alone when they were killed in the evening or early morning in the city of 320,000 residents, about 50 miles south of the state capital, Sacramento. In each case, the chief said that five male victims were ambushed and shot alone in low-light areas.

Victims ranged in age from 21 to 54; McFadden said that four of the men were Hispanic and one was White.

Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln said, “No family should walk around their town out of fear or with their hands on their shoulders.”

“We are committed to protecting our community and solving these matters by using all the resources at our disposal, including yours. WE NEED YOUR HELP!!!! If anyone has information about these investigations, let us know. Call immediately. Please remember the family of our victims is grieving members who need resolution. If you know anything, say something,” the chief wrote on Facebook.

The City of Stockton placed a reward of $75,000, and the Stockton Crime Stoppers offered an additional $10,000.

Stockton police said they are now reviewing other unsolved murders to see if there are any links.

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