"It was just a shock for me to, you know, when I come outside and see that it was my cousin Mervin," said Chalita West, a cousin of Mervin Harmon.
West said ot was heartbreaking enough that her cousin was killed. But she said it was even more unnerving to realize that he was allegedly killed by a man also charged with killing six other men.
"It was just hurtful, more devastating feeling then, to know. We just want justice for us, me and my family, but we just feel hurtful to come across, to hear it was, you know, so close to home," West said.
Harmon, who was homeless, was shot dead on April 16, 2021 in the driveway of his cousin’s home near 62nd and Bromley avenues in East Oakland.
Stockton police say the killer is Wesley Brownlee, who grew up in Oakland just a few blocks from where Harmon was killed.
Authorities say Brownlee’s first two homicide victims were killed in Oakland.
His first alleged victim, Juan Miguel Vazquez Serrano, was shot and killed on April 10, 2021, near 57th and Harmon in East Oakland.
Six days later, Harmon, a father of two, was gunned down.
That same day, Brownlee allegedly shot a woman in Stockton. She survived.
The San Joaquin County DA says Brownlee went on to shoot and kill five men in Stockton in 2022. In all, he’s been charged with seven counts of murder and the special circumstance of multiple murder.
Many of the victims were homeless.
"It's just crazy, like he just doesn't care who, you know, he's picking the victims that's out here, nowhere to go, so he's just picking, targeting people that's in the streets," West said.'
Robert Gerstle is West's boyfriend. The couple met after they were introduced by the victim when both men lived at the same homeless shelter.
"He's a monster, the suspect, he's a monster, if he's convicted for all these crimes, these heinous crimes," Gerstle said. "He needs to be put away. I know that California has a moratorium on the death penalty. I'm not a death-penalty advocate, but certain cases…"
San Joaquin County prosecutors are handling all seven cases, including the two in Oakland. If convicted, Brownlee could face in life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is due back in court in Stockon on Tuesday.