New­man of­fi­cer called ‘our won­der­ful friend, pro­tec­tor’ at Fri­day vigil

The Modesto Bee (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JOHN HOL­LAND jhol­[email protected]­

More than 1,000 peo­ple held can­dles in mem­ory of po­lice Cpl. Ronil Singh in a down­town New­man plaza al­ready glow­ing with Christ­mas lights.

Fri­day’s vigil came three nights af­ter Singh was shot to death dur­ing a traf­fic stop, and sev­eral hours af­ter his al­leged killer and seven other peo­ple were ar­rested.

His brother, Reg­gie Singh, spoke to the crowd while hold­ing the slain of­fi­cer’s 5-mon­thold son, wrapped in a blan­ket against the win­ter chill.

“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.”

Singh, 33, had been a New­man of­fi­cer since 2011. He was one of nine of­fi­cers in the city of about 11,000 peo­ple

“We are sad­dened, grief, some anger, for the sense­less killing of our won­der­ful friend, pro­tec­tor, fam­ily mem­ber,” said Casey Gra­ham, a New­man city coun­cil mem­ber and po­lice of­fi­cer in Modesto.

Ronil Singh’s wife, Anamika, at­tended the vigil along with other rel­a­tives and friends. So did Sam, the late of­fi­cer’s K-9 part­ner, who will re­main with the fam­ily rather than re­turn to nar­cotics duty.

The cor­po­ral was among the many In­dian peo­ple from Fiji who have im­mi­grated to the area. Ad­mir­ers have talked this week about his de­ter­mi­na­tion to be a po­lice of­fi­cer and his love of

ocean fish­ing and other ex­ploits.

Po­lice Chief Randy Richard­son let on Fri­day night that Singh was short of per­fect: “Ron wasn’t a great driver. He wrecked a cou­ple of our pa­trol cars.”

Singh was killed at about 1 a.m. Wed­nes­day af­ter pulling over a sus­pected drunk driver at Merced Street and Euca- lyp­tus Av­enue. A 55-hour man­hunt led to the ar­rest just east of Bak­ers­field of Gus­tavo Perez Ar­riaga, 32, on sus­pi­cion of shoot­ing the cor­po­ral. Seven other peo­ple, in­clud­ing Ar­riaga’s girl­friend and brother, face charges of ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact, or aid­ing and abet­ting.

Richard­son said he ap­pre­ci­ated the many tips to in­ves­ti­ga­tors into Singh’s shoot­ing, but he lamented that peo­ple want to re­main anony­mous in these sit­u­a­tions.

“Why has our so­ci­ety gone there?” he said. “Why aren’t we proud to step up and help? That’s what we need to get back to, is com­mu­nity, that small town feel­ing, and let it grow.”

ANDY AL­FARO aal­[email protected]­

More than 1,000 peo­ple gath­ered for a can­dle­light vigil held in mem­ory of po­lice Cpl. Ronil Singh in down­town New­man.

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