STANISLAUS COUNTY — A Newman Police Officer was shot and killed during a traffic stop around 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Authorities say 33-year-old Officer Ronil Singh pulled over to make a traffic stop at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue and moments later he was heard over the radio saying “shots fired.”
Multiple agencies responded to the scene and found Singh with gunshot wounds.
He was transported to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead. Officer Singh had been employed with the Newman Police Department since 2011.
The suspect had already left the scene before additional officers arrived.
Investigators say the suspect’s vehicle — a gray, extended cab Dodge Ram pickup with paper “AR Auto” plates — was found along River Road just outside of Newman later Wednesday afternoon.
The suspect is described as a heavy-set Hispanic male with black hair. He was last seen wearing a black jacket with white Ecko brand patches on the shoulders, black shirt, silver chain on his neck and black shoes.
He is to be considered armed and dangerous.
In a press conference Thursday morning, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson announced that the suspect they are looking for is in the US illegally.
Authorities believe he is hiding out somewhere within Stanislaus County.
Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspect to contact Detective Michael Fisher at 209-525-7083 or dispatch at 209-552-2468.
Remembering Officer Singh
The community of Newman is grieving for Officer Singh.
Friend JJ Fernandes says he last saw Singh on-duty on Christmas. Singh was a new father, missing his wife and 5-month-old son.
"One of the last things I told him was it doesn’t matter what you buy your kid, it’s how much time you spend with him," Fernandes said.
Hours later, Singh was killed.
Many of the Stanislaus County sheriff's deputies investigating Singh's death knew him as a friend.
"Somebody you know and our county, even though it is a large county, we still know a lot of the law enforcement officers personally," Stanislaus County sheriff's spokesman Raj Singh said. "So it definitely makes a toll, an impact."
Friends say Singh truly loved his job and cared about the families he served and the community he worked in.
"All the officers here at Newman are great but he stands out the most for me and my family," neighbor Art Chavez said.
With broken hearts, loved ones now seek justice.
“This guy was an officer, he has a baby boy, a family. The least the community could do for him now is find this guy," Fernandes said. "We owe him that much.”
The Search Continues
As investigators search for the suspect, the Newman community is mourning.
They’ve left balloons, flowers and candles, all to honor officer Singh.
It started as a typical overnight shift at Newman Foods before store clerk, Susana Martinez heard gunshots.
The man believed to be the suspect came in to pick up alcohol just before 1 a.m. and moments later, Singh was shot.
Martinez ran outside when after hearing the gunfire.
“We saw the truck left and officer Singh was left behind,” she said.
Investigators believe the same man she had just helped at the convenience store, shot and killed Corporal Ronil Singh when he pulled the man over for a traffic stop.
“I truly thought he’d be OK. This morning I found out he sadly passed away,” Martinez said. “I’ve known officer Singh and to know his life was taken moments after me interacting with the person responsible…it’s hard.”
Now, police are on a statewide manhunt for the suspect.
Earlier this evening investigators found the truck the suspect was driving — parked outside a home near Newman.
But the suspect was nowhere in sight.
Officials are working into the night— in hopes of bringing justice for Singh’s wife and son.
“His wife doesn’t get to see her husband come home. Their child doesn’t get to see dad come home anymore. It’s definitely hard,” said Raj Singh, Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Spokesperson.
The whole city of Newman is mourning this loss.
“It just really hits home. I just got off work and the most I could do is just leave some flowers. Wish I could do more,” said Singh’s neighbor, Hunter Calzada.
Martinez prays the suspect is found. She didn’t know him well, but had multiple run-ins with him at the convenience store.
“He’s harassed me personally. Verbally in the past,” she said.
Forcing her to call police officers like Cpl. Singh for protection.
“I’ve interacted with officer Singh many times before. He just wants to help. And it’s sad what happened to him,” Martinez said.
The department has started a memorial Fund for officer Singh. You can donate by clicking here.