SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Authorities throughout California were hunting the man suspected of killing a policeman during a traffic stop in a small Central Valley town.
Police agencies in and out of California were alerted to watch for the heavyset, chain-wearing suspect in Wednesday’s slaying of 33-year-old Cpl. Ronil Singh, Stanislaus County sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Letras said.
The public was asked for information about his identity and the California Highway Patrol warned that he was considered armed and dangerous.
Singh was shot a few minutes after radioing in that he was pulling over a gray pickup truck that had no license plate in Newman, a town of about 10,000 people some 100 miles (160 kilometers) southeast of San Francisco.
Singh was pronounced dead at a hospital.
A ground and air search began. Authorities were looking for a man seen in surveillance photos at a convenience store shortly before the shooting.
He appeared to be a heavy man with short, dark hair, a silver chain, jeans, dark T-shirt and a dark jacket with white Ecko brand patches on the shoulders.
Newman detectives asked anyone with information about the man’s identity to contact them.
“We have sent out information to law enforcement up and down the state, as well as outside California,” Letras said.
A truck believed to have been the one stopped by Singh was later found in a garage in a mobile home park about 4 miles (6 kilometers) from the shooting. Investigators were examining it, police said.
Singh was a native of Fiji and the father of an infant son. He joined the Newman police force in 2011. Earlier in his career, Ronil Singh worked as a deputy with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.
“He was living the American dream,” said Stanislaus County sheriff’s Deputy Royjinder Singh, who is not related to the slain officer but knew him.
“He loved camping, loved hunting, loved fishing, loved his family,” the deputy said.
On his Facebook page, Ronil Singh posted pictures on Christmas Eve from a deep-sea fishing trip that produced a big haul of crabs and fish. The profile picture shows him smiling as he stands at a patrol car with a dog — the same photograph of the officer released by the Sheriff’s Department.
Ronil Singh is survived by his wife, Anamika, and a 5-month-old son, authorities said.
Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown offered condolences to Ronil Singh’s family and said flags at the Capitol would fly at half-staff in his honor.
“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,” Brown said.