The man suspected of shooting and killing a California police officer during a traffic stop in Newman on Wednesday has been apprehended in Kern County, officials said Friday.
Authorities said the suspect, identified as 32-year-old Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was being transferred to Stanislaus County on Friday afternoon with slain Newman police Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh’s handcuffs around his wrists.
Two other people have also been arrested on suspicion of trying to help Arriaga in his attempts to allude authorities.
Singh died after pulling over a pickup truck for a suspected case of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol just before 1 a.m. Wednesday in Newman. Authorities said the driver of the truck and Singh exchanged gunfire. Singh was fatally shot while the gunman was able to flee.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said Thursday that Arriaga came to the country illegally. On Friday, he said Arriaga had planned to return to his native Mexico before his arrest.
“That was his goal, to get across the border,” Christianson said.
Deputies said Arriaga illegally crossed from Mexico into Arizona several years ago and that he made his living picking up odd jobs, most related to farming. He was also a known gang member with ties to the Sureños gang and two prior arrests for DUI, Christianson said.
“He is a criminal,” the sheriff said Friday. “Potentially this could be a capital case, we don’t know.”
Authorities arrested two other men in connection to the case, both accused of lying to protect Arriaga. Adrian Virgen, 25, was identified as Arriaga’s brother while Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, was identified as co-worker of Arriaga’s.
“We had them in custody, asked for their cooperation, and they lied to us,” Christianson said.
Both men were being held in Stanislaus County on Friday.
Newman police Chief Randy Richardson said Thursday that Singh immigrated to the U.S. from Fiji and worked or volunteered for several police agencies in the area before joining the 12-member Newman Police Department in 2011. He remembered Singh as a hard-working, good-natured man who loved being a husband, being a police officer and spearfishing, among other pursuits.
“What needs to be known is that he was truly just a human being and an American patriot. Ron was not born in America, he was born in Fiji. He came to this country with one purpose, and that was to serve this country,” Richardson said Thursday.
“He truly loved what he did. You’ve never seen a man smile more than him. I know that’s said a lot in these things, but you ask anybody, he was never in a bad mood. It was unreal. He loved what he did.”
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