Natasha LaTour, believed to be the sole survivor of a suspected serial killer, stands on the railroad tracks next to where she was shot in Stockton, California.
Stockton, California CNN  — 

Her body is riddled with bullet hole scars and specks of shrapnel. Just beneath the skin on her waist and chest are two lumps of leftover ammunition. Yet Natasha LaTour is still alive – believed to be the lone survivor of a suspected serial killer.

Between 2021 and 2022, seven men were fatally shot at various locations in Oakland and Stockton, California, in late-night attacks that left residents on edge. The man accused of murdering these men, Wesley Brownlee, is also alleged to have attacked LaTour.

Brownlee, who is charged with seven counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, among other charges, is expected to appear in court to enter a plea on January 17. His attorney did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.

In an interview with CNN, an effervescent LaTour, speaking a mile-a-minute, returned to the scene where she narrowly escaped death to recount the details of her shooting, the subsequent police response, and discuss her plans moving forward.

While living in Stockton in April 2021, LaTour was addicted to meth, living on the street and collecting soda cans to earn enough money to survive, she said.

Around 3 a.m. on the night of April 16, as she stood shrouded by overgrown shrubbery near railroad tracks and a one-way street, the crunch of footsteps on rocky gravel behind LaTour pierced the pre-dawn silence.

Natasha LaTour's body is riddled with bullet hole scars and specks of shrapnel.

Startled, LaTour spun around and saw a dark figure with a gun pointed directly at her, she recalled.

“I think he chose me because I was alone,” she said of the gunman, who she described as wearing dark clothing, his face concealed by a mask. Though she cannot remember hearing any gunshots, LaTour distinctly recalls seeing the muzzle flash of the handgun and realizing she had been shot.

“It felt like if someone was throwing marbles at you or something like that … with just little pings,” she said. “Then there’s the, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’ There’s a searing burn, and then there’s an ache.”

LaTour said she doesn’t know exactly how many times she was shot given her scarring from both bullets and shrapnel – but she thinks it was between eight to 10 times.

With wounds spanning from her collarbone and shoulder to her hip, LaTour struggled to breathe as she fell to the ground. Lying in the cold night air, feeling blood gush from her abdomen, LaTour recalled at that moment, she saw light. “There was only one voice that heard me – Jesus,” she attested. “I never saw Him, but I felt Him.”

LaTour managed to slowly scoot on her back more than 20 yards across the rocky ground until she finally reached the street. She pushed herself up a small incline with the hopes of being seen by an oncoming car, but said she was afraid to wave her arms because with every move, she “felt more blood pouring out.”

Eventually, someone did see her and called for help.

LaTour was shot near railroad tracks in Stockton in April 2021.

Five minutes later, Stockton Police officers arrived, an incident report shows, soon followed by an ambulance. LaTour remembers the ambulance having to wait for a train to pass before she could be loaded in and whisked to the nearest trauma center. She says she then lost consciousness and awoke four days later in the hospital. LaTour said she still felt Jesus’ presence by her side.

After another week in the hospital, and months of recovery from serious injuries to her collarbone, shoulder, lung, liver, and even nerve damage, LaTour says she found “forced sobriety” quickly turned into “effortless sobriety.”

She also found forgiveness for her alleged attacker.

“I forgive Wesley Brownlee fully,” said LaTour, but “I’m not saying you should trust me in a room with him,” she added. “I have tried to hate him. God won’t let me.”

LaTour stands in front of City Hall in Stockton, California.

But LaTour is admittedly having a tougher time forgiving the officers who she says did not properly investigate her case. She told CNN she felt ignored by police following the shooting, saying “the only statement they ever took was when I was dying in the middle of the street.”

A year and a half after the shooting that injured LaTour, Stockton Police had connected six homicides and were actively seeking a suspect. Chief Stanley McFadden sought tips from the public and offered a large reward to identify the person responsible for the killings that had the region on edge and garnered national attention.

Then, the police department released a shadowy surveillance image of a person of interest that LaTour recognized. “His clothes looked like they were hanging off of him. He looked like that the night of the shooting, too,” she said. LaTour told police the image looked like her shooter, she said.

Roughly two weeks later, Brownlee was being surveilled by police in the wee hours of the night, Stockton Police said. Brownlee appeared to be “out hunting” and “on a mission to kill,” McFadden said in mid-October, after Brownlee was taken into custody. “We are sure we stopped another killing,” the police chief said, announcing the arrest.

Shortly thereafter, Brownlee was charged with three counts of murder. Two months later, the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office added another five charges: four more counts of murder, and for the shooting of LaTour – attempted murder.

Ballistics proved to be a common thread in several of the killings, according to the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, which said in October authorities had “high confidence the same firearm was used in three of the recent homicides.”

Wesley Brownlee stands with public defender Allison Nobert during his arraignment in San Joaquin County Superior Court in October.

According to the charging documents, Brownlee is accused of killing one man on April 10, 2021 and another on April 16 – the same night LaTour was shot.

Officers did not follow up with her during her 12-day stay in the hospital, LaTour said. After she sought out the investigating officer in the weeks following the shooting, LaTour said he indicated that the weapon used in her shooting was connected to a homicide earlier in April 2021.

Given her communication with the officer, and her belief that she was an only an opportunistic target, LaTour suspects police knew early on that a serial killer was at large. She said she believes police knew her shooting was connected with at least one other and if they had investigated appropriately, other lives could have been saved.

Of the seven men Brownlee is charged with murdering, five of them were killed after LaTour was shot, according to the charging documents. “Everybody that died after me didn’t have to,” LaTour said.

Joe Silva, public information officer for the Stockton Police Department, declined to comment directly about LaTour’s allegations, citing the pending criminal case against Brownlee. Officer Silva and Stockton Police Chief McFadden did offer LaTour a private apology regarding the investigation of her case.

“The chief and I apologized to her and the reason for that was because she’s a victim of a violent crime and she was apologized to because of a follow up that was not conducted during her investigation,” Silva said.

Stockton Police Chief Stanley McFadden speaks during a news conference in October about Brownlee's arrest.

LaTour said the apology came during a vigil honoring the victims, when she was pulled aside by McFadden and Silva. The investigating officer in her case has since left the department for another agency, according to Silva.

Still plagued by nightmares about the incident, LaTour is interested in pursuing the victim advocacy field, hopeful that she can help find ways to make recovery easier for other crime victims. LaTour is particularly interested in assuring that victims are offered timely communications about their cases, and especially for those without health insurance, are assisted with timely health care including physical therapy and mental health treatment.

“I’m not angry about the shooting, I’m angry about what I have to go through,” she said. Above all, LaTour says she is grateful that her life was spared, that she found the Lord and for the chance to help others.

“The best way to show gratitude is being sober,” LaTour added. Twenty months after the shooting, she is still clean.

“I’m never gonna go back” to using, she vowed. “Never. Never. Never,” she insisted, firm in her divine beliefs. “I am honored God is using me for whatever His higher power is. God is dope. Seriously, He’s the best,” she said.