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Alleged Newman cop killer arrested in Bakersfield; Sheriff blames sanctuary laws in officer's death

The suspect allegedly killed Cpl. Ronil Singh the day after Christmas during a traffic stop.

Update 10 p.m.:

The Stanilaus County Sheriff's Office confirmed two addition arrests in the deadly shooting case of Newman Police Officers Ronil Singh.

Investigators say Gustavo Arriaga's girlfriend, 30-year-old Ana Leyde Cervantes was arrested in Turlock on Friday. Gustavo's brother, 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Mendoza was arrested in Livermore. 

Both are accused of aiding Gustavo in evading police. Their booking photos along with Gustavo's were all released by the sheriff's department Friday night.

Update 2:52 p.m.:

According to the Kern County Sheriff's Department, three people were arrested in Bakersfield for helping a man who allegedly shot and killed Newman Police Officer Ronil Singh. 

Bernade Madrigal Castaneda, 59, Erasmo Villegas, 36, and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, were at a home in the 8200 block of Brooks Lane, where deputies tracked the suspect, 32-year-old Gustavo Perez Arriaga.

Arriaga surrendered as SWAT approached the home. 

Castaneda, Villegas and Moreno were arrested on scene for aiding and abetting.

Original story:

The man accused of killing a California police officer who pulled him over to investigate if he was driving drunk was captured Friday as he tried to flee to Mexico, authorities said.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga was arrested in Bakersfield in connection with Wednesday's shooting of Cpl. Ronil Singh of the tiny Newman Police Department, said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, whose agency is leading the investigation.

The sheriff told reporters that Perez Arriaga was in the country illegally after crossing the border in Arizona and had two prior arrests for driving while intoxicated. Christianson didn't say when the 33-year-old came to the U.S. but that the Mexico native has been living here for several years.

The sheriff said Perez Arriaga has gang affiliations and multiple Facebook pages with different names.

Authorities also arrested Perez Arriaga's brother, Adrian Virgen, 25, and a co-worker, Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, who lied to police to try to protect him, Christianson said.

The sheriff blamed California's sanctuary law for preventing local authorities from reporting Perez Arriaga to federal immigration officials for his previous arrests, adding that if had been deported, Singh would still be alive.

Christianson spoke at the news conference about making laws stricter as Singh's brother wept beside him.

Singh also was an immigrant, coming legally from his native Fiji to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, authorities said. The 33-year-old had a newborn son and joined the 12-officer Newman police force in 2011.

The shooting comes amid a political fight over immigration, with President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats at odds over funding for a border wall that has forced a partial government shutdown.

Trump tweeted about Singh's killing Thursday, saying it was "time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!"

The announcement of arrests comes after a statewide manhunt for the suspect accused of killing Singh the day after Christmas. Authorities said the officer pulled over the attacker as part of a drunken driving investigation around 1 a.m.

There was a gunfight as Singh "absolutely tried to defend himself" but he apparently didn't hit the suspect, Christianson said.

Singh, a 33-year-old native of Fiji with an infant son, stopped the attacker as part of a DUI investigation when the suspect began shooting at him. Corporal Singh fired back, trying to defend himself. He was shot a few minutes after radioing that he was pulling over a gray pickup truck that had no license plate in Newman, a town of about 10,000 people, roughly 25 miles south of Modesto. Singh died at a hospital.

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Singh drove more than two hours each way to attend the police academy in Yuba City, Richardson said. He joined the Merced County sheriff's office as a reserve officer and worked as an animal control officer in Turlock before being hired by the Newman force in 2011.

English was Singh's third language and he had a thick accent but took speech classes to improve his communication, the chief said.


Newman Chief of Police gets emotional during press conference

"You have to understand, this was not supposed to happen here," said Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson, about the shooting death of his officer and close friend Corporal Ronil Singh. Cpl. Singh was shot and killed early Wednesday morning during a DUI traffic stop. The manhunt continues for his killer.

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