Police have revealed that the illegal immigrant suspect accused of murdering a California cop just after Christmas was trying to flee to Mexico when he was arrested and placed in the slain officer’s handcuffs.
After a two-day statewide manhunt police arrested Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, on Friday morning.
He’s accused of shooting dead Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh just before dawn on Wednesday December 26 after the officer pulled him over suspecting that he was driving drunk.
Arriaga’s arrest has brought a sense of justice to the Newman Police Department and to the hundreds of Newman, California residents who gathered in the city’s downtown plaza on Friday evening for a tearful candlelight vigil.
The emotional vigil led by Singh’s wife Anamika, their five-month-old son, and his K-9 partner Sam.
Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, (left) was arrested Friday morning in Bakersfield, California, accused of shooting dead Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh, 33, (right) on Wednesday
Arriaga, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, was arrested Friday morning in Bakersfield, California suspected of killing Singh just after Christmas. He is pictured above being taken in
The city poured into the downtown Plaza Square that was decorated with white and blue flowers and blue ribbons to honor the seven-year veteran.
Singh was a native of Fiji and lived in Modesto with his wife and their baby. He joined the Newman police force in 2011.
‘He was a friend to everyone on Facebook and even in person, he was very close to the community,’ Newman resident Lupita Quirarte said to ABC.
‘He always talked about work and how great the city of Newman was, he always talked about getting a job as an officer. Ronil loved his job and the people of Newman,’ Singh’s grieving brother Reggie said.
‘We are a small, tight knit community. We are all very happy that he is caught, justice will be served,’ Newman resident Kimbery Lobo added.
The town of Newman gathered in the downtown plaza for a candlelit vigil on Friday evening
The emotional vigil led by Singh’s wife Anamika, their five-month-old son, and the officer’s K-9 partner Sam, all three pictured above at the vigil
Hundreds gathered to share memories of Cpl. Singh and light candles
The townspeople honored the memory of the seven-year police veteran. He was from Fiji and joined the Newman Police force in 2011
Singh’s co-workers shared memories and shed tears as they reflected on the slain officer’s life and dedication to the police force
Newman, California’s downtown plaza pictured above during Friday’s emotional vigil
Blue and white flowers were laid at the entrance of the Newman Police Department
Arriaga was arrested on Friday in Bakersfield, California, about 200 miles southeast of where he shot Singh on Wednesday.
Singh stopped Arriaga on suspicion of driving drunk and because the suspect’s gray Dodge pickup truck had no license plate just before 1am on December 26.
When he approached the car the suspect gunman opened fire. Singh was found with multiple bullet wounds and was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
A massive manhunt was launched to find the gunman after he fled the scene. Cops released surveillance pictures of the suspect and social media pictures but did not name him as he had multiple aliases.
His Dodge pickup truck was found 13 hours after the shooting, abandoned at a River Road mobile home park.
Singh’s brother cried as he addressed law enforcement and reporters following Arriaga’s arrest, thanking police for finding the suspect after a two-day manhunt
Christianson identified Arriaga on Friday afternoon at a press conference saying he illegally entered the U.S. via Arizona several years ago and had two previous DUI arrests
Ronil Singh of Newman Police Department was killed by an unidentified suspect early on Wednesday morning
The suspect gunman was then tracked down on Friday at a home in Lamont, California where he was trying to flee to Mexico.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said Arriaga is a Mexican national who illegally entered the U.S. through Arizona several years ago and worked as a farm laborer.
He was also a part of the notoriously violent Sureños street gang.
Sheriff Christianson added that Arriaga had two previous drunk driving arrests.
He blamed California’s sanctuary law for preventing local cops from reporting Arriaga to immigration officers.
‘We can’t ignore the fact that this could have been preventable,’ Christianson said during a Friday press conference.
Cops also arrested Arriaga’s brother Adrian Virgen, 25, (left) and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, (right) on Thursday for allegedly trying to divert police from capturing Arriaga
On Friday evening Arriaga’s girlfriend Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, (left) and his brother Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, (right) were also arrested for helping him evade arrest
California’s sanctuary law limits the cooperation between local police and federal immigration officers
Cops have also arrested a total of eight other suspects for helping Arriaga evade police.
Arriaga’s brother Adrian Virgen, 25, and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, were arrested on Thursday for allegedly helping Arriaga escape police on charges of accessory after the fact to a felony.
‘We had them in custody (Thursday) and asked for their cooperation and they lied to us,’ Sheriff Christianson said at a Friday press conference. He added they were also in the country illegally.
They also arrested three additional people in South Valley – Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59; Erasmo Villegas, 36; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57 – for aiding and abetting Arriaga elude capture. They were in the home where he was arrested.
Late Friday, Stanislaus County detectives arrested Arriaga’s girlfriend Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, and his brother Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34.
Investigators also said they may have recovered the murder weapon, a handgun, according to the Sacramento Bee.
However, police are not giving details as to where or when the handgun was found.
The suspect has a flaming skull tattoo on his right arm with the phrase ‘$ur3no$’ which means Sureños, the name of a Mexican-American street gang linked to murders and human smuggling along the U.S.-Mexico border
This photo compilation on social media shows a closer look at the Sureños tattoo
According to social media photos and pictures shared by police, Arriaga was affiliated with notoriously bloody gang Sureños and had a tattoo of the gang’s name on his right arm.
In one of the photos a flaming skull tattoo with the word ‘$ur3no$’ is visible on Arriaga’s right arm, which according to police in Washington is Spanish for ‘southerners’.
‘Sureños are a group of Mexican-American street gangs with origins in southern California. The gang has allegiance to the [California] prison gang, Mexican Mafia, aka “La Eme,” according to a gang recognition guide.
The group is located in southern California which is just south of Bakersfield. The gang has been linked to murders and human smuggling crimes along the U.S.-Mexico border.
On several of Arriaga’s Facebook pages, the Sureños tattoo is visible. One profile shows him in several photos posing with a pistol.