Newman, CA – Newman Police Department K9 Sam, the four-legged partner of slain Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh, will be retiring from the force to live out her days in the company of the corporal’s widow and five-month-old son.
“Sam is already back home, with the Singh family, where Sam belongs,” Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said during an emotional press conference on Thursday.
Although K9 Sam would likely be able to work for several more years, the department believes it is best for her to retire and remain with her family, he said.
“I will not take another member of that family from them,” Chief Richardson told reporters.
K9 Sam, who was on duty with Cpl. Singh at the time of the fatal altercation, was not injured during the attack.
“When I pulled Sam out of the car, [she] was wearing a Mrs. Claus outfit that he had put on her,” Chief Richardson said. “It’s just the kind of guy he was…Just to bring smiles to people’s faces.”
He imagined that Cpl. Singh would have loved having K9 Sam conduct a narcotics search in her festive outfit.
“He probably would’ve thought it was funny,” the chief said.
Cpl. Singh often praised K9 Sam and kept the community updated on her latest cases through his posts on the Newman Police K9 Association Facebook page.
“Great job Sam, she does it again,” Cpl. Singh wrote in a post highlighting K9 Sam’s work on a methamphetamine bust.
“She is always ready to assist Newman Police Department officers by searching for drugs,” he wrote in another post. “Bad guy goes to jail for drug sales and Sam will continue to get treats later during the day.”
And even though they were on shift during K9 Sam’s birthday in 2017, Cpl. Singh made sure to let everyone know she was having a great day.
“My crazy partner turned 5 today,” he wrote. “She is enjoying her patrol shift and enjoying her treats. Happy birthday Sam.”
Chief Richardson described Cpl. Singh as a "true patriot," and said that he immigrated to the U.S. specifically to become a police officer.
"That's all he wanted to do," Chief Richardson said. "You've never seen a man smile more than him."
The last time he saw Cpl. Singh was at 4 a.m. on Christmas Day, as the chief was relieving him so he could go spend a few hours celebrating the holiday with his wife and infant son.
The fatal altercation began at 12:57 a.m. on Dec. 26, when Cpl. Singh checked out on a traffic stop at Eucalyptus Avenue and Merced Street with a DUI suspect later identified as 32-year-old illegal alien Gustavo Perez Arriaga.
Just moments later, Cpl. Singh radioed there had been “shots fired” at the scene, and officers from multiple agencies immediately responded to his location.
"It was a gunfight," Sheriff Christianson said during the press conference on Thursday. "Cpl. Singh absolutely tried to defend himself and stop this credible threat."
They found Cpl. Singh, 33, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
He was rushed to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Arriaga fled the scene in a gray Dodge Ram pickup prior to other officers’ arrival, leading to the two-day manhunt.
The pickup was later found abandoned near Newman.
“This suspect, unlike Ron – who immigrated to this country lawfully and legally to pursue his lifelong career of public safety, public service and being a police officer – this suspect is in our country illegally,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said at the time. “He doesn't belong here. He's a criminal."
Six other suspects accused of aiding the self-proclaimed Sureno street gang member in his attempt to escape from the United States have also been arrested.
“They intentionally lied to us,” Sheriff Christianson said during the conference. “They tried to divert us…they misled us, they provided information that was false, all in an attempt to protect [Arriaga].”
They include the accused cop-killer’s brothers, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen, and 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Cervantes, and Arriaga’s coworker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz.
Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, Erasmo Villegas, 36, Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59, and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, have also been arrested for aiding and abetting Arriaga.
Arriaga was transported back to Stanislaus County from Bakersfield on Friday afternoon, and was wearing Cpl. Singh’s handcuffs during his journey, police said.