A California police officer who was killed in the line of duty was hailed Saturday as a ‘Fiji-born American hero’ who made the ultimate sacrifice for his adopted country.
At a funeral held for Cpl. Ronil Singh, mourners remembered the 33-year-old officer as a hard-working immigrant who worked his way up to become an officer in the small town of Newman.
He ‘stood so much for what is right in our world and yet unfortunately was taken too soon from us by what is wrong in our world,’ Modesto police Officer Jeff Harmon said at the service in a Modesto church.
Newman police officers carry the body of their slain colleague Cpl. Ronil ‘Ron’ Singh during his funeral on Saturday in Modesto, California
Hundreds of police officers from across the country along with members of the public came out to pay their respects
The widow and family members of slain Newman police officer Corporal Ronil Singh arrive for the funeral service at CrossPoint Community Church
He ‘probably more than anything else wanted to be home on Christmas night with his wife and his young son, but instead made a selfless choice to serve all of his community knowing that there are many more than just his own family that needed his protection that night,’ he added.
Singh was shot dead in the early hours of December 26 after he pulled over a suspected drunk driver.
The gunman fled, and a two-day-long manhunt led to the arrest of a man who authorities said was in the country illegally and was preparing to flee to Mexico.
Gustavo Arriaga Perez, also 33, has since been charged with murder.
The case has rekindled a debate over California’s sanctuary law that limits cooperation by local authorities with federal immigration authorities.
Officer Jeffrey Harmon of the Modesto Police Department speaks as the flag-draped casket of slain Newman police officer Corporal Ronil Singh is seen during a funeral service
Anamika Singh, the widow of the slain police officer, holds their 5-month-old child during her husband’s funeral
Rachel Silva holds a sign as a procession accompanies the body of Singh on Saturday
Police officers salute the Singh family before his funeral service at CrossPoint Community Church on Saturday
The flag-draped casket of Corporal Singh is seen during his funeral service in central California on Saturday
Singh’s body will be taken on a procession to its final resting place at Lakewood Memorial Park in the nearby town of Hughson
Police officers stand outside the funeral service for Singh in Modesto, California on Saturday
Sarah Closson, a volunteer with End of Watch Fund, places bags of snacks and hand written notes for officers attending the funeral service
A moment of silence, followed by Scottish bagpipes playing Amazing Grace, marked the beginning of funeral services
The killing of Cpl. Singh has reignited debate in the United States about so-called ‘sanctuary cities’
Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson speaks during the funeral service. ‘I’ve been to many of these and I always sit in the back,’ he said. ‘I never wanted to be here’
Members of law enforcement agencies from all over the country attended the funeral, with more than 100 agencies represented, including more than a dozen from New York and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Police officers salute family members of slain Newman police officer Corporal Ronil Singh before a funeral service at CrossPoint Community Church
A police officer adjusts his hat prior to the funeral service for slain Newman police officer Corporal Ronil Singh
Mourners are seen in front of the church where Singh’s funeral took place in Modesto, California on Saturday
This undated photo provided by the Newman Police Department shows Officer Ronil Singh. The Northern California police officer was gunned down during a traffic stop the day after Christmas
President Donald Trump has cited Singh’s killing to call for tougher border security amid a fight with congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall.
The impasse has forced a partial government shutdown that entered a 15th day Saturday.
At his funeral, however, Singh’s brother and colleagues focused on his achievements and playful personality.
Singh grew up in a Fijian farming town and emigrated to central California in 2003.
He joined the 12-member Newman police department in 2011 after attending police academy and serving as a volunteer, animal control officer and code enforcement officer at other agencies in the region.
Gustavo Arriaga Perez, 33, has since been charged with murder
‘He told me he came to this country with one purpose, and that purpose was to become a police officer,’ Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said.
‘He told me about all the pride he had in America, and how much it meant to get this opportunity.’
Singh served as a K-9 officer before being promoted to a corporal at the Newman police department.
He earned a bachelor degree in administration of justice two years ago with the goal of becoming a sergeant, said his friend, Modesto police Detective Ra Pouv.
‘Ronil and I are both immigrants to a country we truly love, and we both view serving our country and community through law enforcement as important to who we are,’ said Pouv, who is from Cambodia.
‘It is our way of giving back to a country that embraced us and our family.’
The Fijian ambassador to the United States, Naivakarurubalavu Solo Mara, said Singh made his mark in his adopted country and called him a ‘Fiji-born American hero.’
Singh’s widow was at the funeral but did not address mourners; his 5-month-old son could be heard cooing during the service.
A slideshow shown during the service featured photos of the smiling officer posing for Christmas photos with his family, working with his colleagues and cuddling Sam, his black Labrador K-9 dog.
Arriaga, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested last Friday morning in Bakersfield, California suspected of killing Singh just after Christmas. He is pictured above being taken in
Cops also arrested Arriaga’s brother Adrian Virgen, 25, (left) and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, (right) last week for allegedly trying to divert police from capturing Arriaga
Last Friday evening Arriaga’s girlfriend Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, (left) and his brother Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, (right) were also arrested for allegedly helping him evade arrest
On Friday, his casket was draped in an American flag and driven about 25 miles in a procession from Modesto into a theater in the small town of Newman for a viewing.
People lined up along the streets to honor the fallen officer.
After Saturday’s funeral, Singh’s body was taken on a procession to its final resting place at Lakewood Memorial Park in the nearby town of Hughson.
Seven other people have also been arrested for helping Arriaga evade police capture.
They include Perez Arriaga’s brothers, 25-year-old Adrian Virgen and 34-year-old Conrado Virgen Mendoza; his girlfriend, 30-year-old Ana Leyde Cervantes; and a co-worker, 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz, authorities said.
Three people were arrested at the home near Bakersfield.