Newman, CA – The gunman accused of murdering Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh on Christmas night is an illegal alien who is believed to still be within the border of Stanislaus County.
Officials have not yet released the suspect’s name, but said they know who he is and that he is likely still in the immediate area, KCRA reported.
"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. He doesn't belong here. He's a criminal," Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
“We will find him, we will arrest him, and we will bring him to justice,” Sheriff Christianson vowed.
The gray Dodge Ram pickup truck associated with the killer was found abandoned in the 26000 block of River Road near Newman Wednesday afternoon.
There has still be no confirmed sighting of the killer since the murder.
Authorities are asking the public to share the suspect's photo and call 911 immediately with any sightings.
During the emotional press conference on Thursday, Newman Police Chief Randy 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.
"My department is hurting," Chief Richardson said through tears. "We are struggling through this."
Cpl. Singh was murdered in the line of duty on Wednesday morning, after he was shot by a suspect during a predawn traffic stop for a possible DUI.
“Our Newman Police family is devastated by the loss of Ronil,” Chief Randy Richardson said in a press release. “If anyone has any information regarding the identity of the suspect, please contact law enforcement immediately so we can get this cop-killer off the streets.”
The fatal altercation began at 12:57 a.m., when Cpl. Singh checked out on a traffic stop at Eucalyptus Avenue and Merced Street.
Just moments later, he 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.
The unidentified suspect fled the scene prior to the other officers’ arrival, and police are asking for the public’s help to identify and locate him.
Cpl. Singh, a native of Fiji, served the Newman Police Department for over seven years.
He was also a K9 handler, and was partnered up with Newman Police Department’s K9 Sam at the time of his murder, according to The Sacramento Bee.
He previously served with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department and the Turlock Police Department, The Modesto Bee reported.
Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar said that Cpl. Singh joined the department as a cadet, and described him as a “good man," according to The Sacramento Bee.
“His dream and desire was to be a police officer and to be there to serve his community,” Chief Amirfar said. “He chose to be the light in the darkness and to do so without hesitation. We are all devastated and are in mourning. He was loved and will always be in our hearts.”
“The love of community and humanity keeps the light of good burning bright and your police officers are the torch bearers and the guardians,” the chief continued. “Evil will never triumph over good.”
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Cpl. Singh’s uncle, Ugesh Yogi Singh, described his nephew as “adventurous,” and said he was the family’s “action hero.”
He said Cpl. Singh was working a Christmas night overtime shift at the time of his murder.
“He was a great role model for our next generation of Indo Americans,” Singh wrote.
Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Raj Singh told KCRA he was not related to Cpl. Singh, but that they were friends and have worked together over the years.
"He was living the American Dream,” Deputy Singh said. “He immigrated here from the Fiji Islands, just like my parents did, and was definitely enjoying the American Dream.”
Cpl. Singh leaves behind his wife, Anamika, and their five-month-old son, California Governor Edmund Brown said in a statement.
“On behalf of all Californians, Anne and I extend our condolences to Corporal Singh’s wife, young son, loved ones and colleagues,” Brown said. “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.”