Two days before Corporal Ronil Singh’s funeral on Jan. 5, President Donald Trump called his family and colleagues to offer condolence for the murder of the 33-year-old Fiji-born officer in California’s Newman Police Department. Singh was killed in the line of duty a day after Christmas, allegedly by an illegal immigrant.
Announcing Trump’s call in a statement released Jan. 3, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president “praised Officer Singh’s service to his fellow citizens, offered condolences, and commended law enforcement’s rapid investigation, response, and apprehension of the suspect.” Sanders said the president spoke with “Singh’s wife, Amanika “Mika” Chand-Singh; Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson and Sheriff Adam Christianson of Stanislaus County.”
Gustavo Perez Arriaga, described in news reports as an illegal immigrant, was arrested in California, Dec. 28 for the murder. Arriaga was on his way to Mexico, Sheriff Christianson said, adding that the house in Lamont, south of Bakersfield, where he was found, was almost 200 miles from where Singh was killed, and had been under surveillance prior to the arrest.
Earlier on Dec. 26, a few hours after Singh’s death, Trump, did not waste any time to highlight Singh’s alleged killer, Gustavo Perez Arriaga’s illegal status to buttress his call for border wall. Demanding that the Congress fund a U.S.-Mexico wall, Trump tweeted: “There is right now a full-scale manhunt going on in California for an illegal immigrant accused of shooting and killing a police officer during a traffic stop,” Trump tweeted. “Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”
Singh, 33, was reportedly shot at 1:00 a.m. on Dec. 26, on his way home from duty, when he pulled over a driver in a gray pickup truck to investigate possible drunken driving. He was fatally shot minutes later. He discharged his gun while trying to defend himself. He is survived by his wife Anamika and their 5-month-old son.
Singh had come to the U.S. from Fiji to become a police officer and was working for the Newman Police Department since 2011. Singh was reportedly returning home to spend the holiday with his wife and his son. A Facebook page announcing a Ronil Singh Family Benefits hows a photo of Singh, his wife, their son and Singh’s K9 dogSam, on Christmas Day, at their North Modesto home, before Singh left for work.
Meanwhile, there has been an outpouring of love and support for Singh and his family. Newman residents, police officers from across the country, Singh’s family and the Indo-Fijian community took to social media to express grief and shock on his death and came forward to help the family.
According to Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department’s Facebook page, the Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association has set up an account where donations can be made for the family.
On Dec. 28, more than 1,000 people held candles in memory of police Cpl. Ronil Singh in a downtown Newman, The Modesto Bee reports. His brother, Reggie Singh, spoke to the crowd while holding the slain officer’s 5-month-old son, wrapped in a blanket against the winter chill, the Bee said. “Ronil loved his job,” he said. “... I thank you all, and the police department of Newman, for giving Ron an awesome time, the time he worked over here.” Ronil Singh’s wife, Anamika, attended the vigil along with other relatives and friends, as did Sam, the late officer’s K-9 partner.
Family members and the police fraternity posted on social media as well.
Udesh Yogi Singh, who described himself as Singh’s uncle, in a Facebook post, called the slain officer “my adventurous nephew” and “my family’s action hero.” Udesh Yogi Singh wrote that his nephew was “working overtime on Christmas night to provide the best for his family. Posting photos of Singh and his wife during their wedding and those of Singh during his fishing trips, he further wrote: “Singh is King forever.!! Love you Beta. See you in heaven.”
California Governor Jerry Brown ordered flags to be lowered down to half-staff at the Capitol to honor Singh."Our hearts are with the entire community of Newman and law enforcement officers across the state who risk their lives every day to protect and serve the people of California," Brown said.
Singh, who was a reserve officer for the Merced County Sheriff and worked as an animal control officer in Turlock, before he joined the Newman police, was an avid outdoorsman who loved fishing, hunting and riding his jet ski. His Facebook page, which is now memorialized, has a few photos of Singh on a boat, fishing, and later with his catch. According to his Facebook page, he graduated from VashitMuni College in Nauva, Fiji in 2003, and later studied Criminal Justice at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California in 2005.
On Dec. 26, a few hours after Singh’s death, an emotional Richardson, in a news conference, said he relieved Singh on Christmas Day “so he could go home and spend time with his family and his newborn child.”
Singh's slaying was the first line-of-duty officer death in the history of the Newman Police, an agency of 12 members, ABC News reports.