STANISLAUS COUNTY, Calif. – There has been a round up in California. Authorities said Friday they’d taken two more people into custody in connection with this week’s shooting death of Newman police Corporal Ronil Singh. This brings the total number of suspects arrested to eight.
The pair were identified as a girlfriend and brother of the suspected gunman.
Investigators also may have recovered the murder weapon, the Sacramento Bee reported.
Previously Friday, authorities said they’d arrested the illegal immigrant fugitive whom they believe gunned down the California law officer early Wednesday. That suspect was identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32. He was captured in Lamont, near Bakersfield, which is about 200 miles south of Newman, where Singh was slain. He had been on his way to his native Mexico, authorities believe.
“We were never more than a step behind this guy,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said of the two-day manhunt for Arriaga. Authorities said Arriaga will be charged with murder in the death of Singh, a seven-year veteran of the Newman Police Department.
Later Friday, authorities announced the arrests of Arriaga’s girlfriend, Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, of Newman, and Arriaga’s brother, Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, of Chowchilla. Cervantes was apprehended in Turlock, and Mendoza in Livermore, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.
Both suspects were arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting Arriaga, authorities said. However, their specific actions were undisclosed.
Sgt. Tom Letras, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, told the Bee that investigators recovered a handgun that may have been used in the shooting. Nevertheless, additional details were not provided.
Before the fatal shooting Wednesday, Corporal Singh had conducted a traffic stop of Arriaga’s vehicle for a DUI investigation. Soon after a gunfight broke out and Singh fired back to try to defend himself, Christianson said.
As a result, the suspect then fled when backup officers arrived to assist Singh, who died at a hospital from gunshot wounds.
Christianson, whose department has been handling the case, told reporters at a news conference that Arriaga was in the U.S. illegally after previously crossing in through the Arizona border. It wasn’t clear when the entry occurred.
Authorities said they’ve also arrested Arriaga’s other brother, Adrian Virgen, 25, and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, 27, accusing them of attempting to mislead investigators in the search for the suspect, according to Christianson. They were arrested for being accessories after the fact to a felony, the sheriff’s office said in Facebook post.
Moreover, both men were in the country illegally, Christianson said.
Additionally, three people from Bakersfield were arrested. They were identified as Bernabe Madrigal Casteneda, 59; Ermasmo Villegas, 36; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, each charged on suspicion of aiding and abetting, the Modesto Bee reported.
On Thursday, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters at a news conference that he’d been notified that the suspect was somewhere between Modesto and Bakersfield. Consequently, the accused cop killer was thought to be heading toward Mexico.
Surveillance teams set up in different communities, and authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for the residence where the suspect was located, Youngblood said. As a SWAT team moved in, the suspect came out with his hands up and surrendered, he added.
“When you use a firearm against a police officer, you can run but you can’t hide,” Youngblood said.
Carrying on a police tradition, Cpl. Singh’s handcuffs were later used on the suspect, according to the sheriff.
“For a suspect to take an officer’s life over a driving-under-the-influence, doesn’t make any logical sense to me, nor anyone else,” Youngblood said. “But no traffic stop and no contact in today’s world is run of the mill.”
- IN MEMORIAM CORPORAL RONIL SINGH
- MAN ACCUSED OF MURDERING NEWMAN POLICE OFFICER CAPTURED
- SUSPECT WHO KILLED CALIFORNIA POLICE OFFICER ALLEGEDLY IN COUNTRY ILLEGALLY
Singh was an immigrant, too, arriving legally from his native Fiji to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, authorities said. Singh joined the small 12-officer Newman Department in July 2011.
He is survived by his wife and a 5-month-old son.
Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson called Singh a patriot.
“This is a man that loved his country. This is a man that worked hard for what he believed in. He believed in this community,” the chief said at a community vigil Friday night honoring the officer.
Residents, friends, relatives and fellow officers held back tears as they eulogized Singh during the candlelight memorial.