The man suspected of killing a California police officer during a traffic stop early Wednesday in Newman was in the country illegally, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said.
Authorities have released several images of the suspect, who is believed to be in his 30s, but they have not released his name as they continue to investigate.
The man is suspected of shooting Newman police Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh after the officer stopped him on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol just before 1 a.m. Wednesday, authorities said.
“This suspect, unlike Ron – who immigrated to this country lawfully and legally to pursue his life-long career of public safety, public service and being a police officer – this suspect is in our country illegally,” Christianson said Thursday at a news conference.
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, police Chief Randy Richardson said. Singh was a K-9 handler and had his K-9, Sam, in the car with him when he was shot, Richardson said. He added that Sam had on a Mrs. Claus costume when officers found her.
“(Singh) would’ve… loved to pull over a car and use his narcotics K-9 to arrest somebody, with Sam in a Mrs. Claus outfit, because he probably would have thought it was funny,” Richardson said.
“Please remember the man. Please remember the husband. Please remember what he was, what he came to this country to do. Yes, he was a police officer but more importantly, he was a human being, and that’s how he would’ve wanted to be remembered.”
Richardson remembered Singh as a hard-working, good-natured man who loved being a husband and spearfishing, among other pursuits. He spoke at least three languages, Richardson said, and took it upon himself to take speech classes to improve his communication with dispatchers.
Richardson said Singh and his wife welcomed a son in July.
“He will never see his son walk,” Richardson said. “He doesn’t get to hold that little boy, hug his wife (or) say goodnight anymore because a coward took his life.”
Authorities said Thursday that investigators have reason to believe the man suspected of killing Singh was still in Stanislaus County.
“He doesn’t belong here. He’s a criminal,” Christianson said Thursday. “We will find him, we will arrest him and we will bring him to justice.”
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous.
“Certainly, if somebody sees our suspect, they do not need to engage him. They do not need to try to stop him,” Christianson said. “Call 911 and let us come and try to safely take him into custody.”
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