UPDATE: The man suspected of gunning down a Newman police officer during a traffic stop Wednesday has been taken into police custody, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said Friday. Click to see the story.
Authorities are still searching for the man suspected of shooting and killing a Newman, California, police officer during a traffic stop early Wednesday, and they believe the suspect is still at large in Stanislaus County, according to sheriff's officials.
Officer Ronil Singh, 33, made a traffic stop early Wednesday in Newman, a small town around 100 miles southeast of San Francisco, NBC affiliate KCRA first reported, and he was later heard calling out "shots fired" over the radio. Responding officers found Singh with a gunshot wound, and he later died at the hospital, according to police.
Officials said the suspect, whose name was not released during a Thursday afternoon press briefing, is considered to be armed and dangerous. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said the suspect is an undocumented immigrant.
The Stanislaus Sheriff late Thursday afternoon conducted a search warrant in connection to the suspect at a property in El Nido in Merced County. The suspect was not located at the property, sheriff's officials said.
On Thursday evening, officials released new photos of the suspect in hopes of confirming his name and his whereabouts.
In surveillance photos released by the sheriff's office, the heavyset suspect with short dark hair is wearing jeans, a navy blue hoodie and a navy T-shirt with a thick chain necklace.
The suspect's vehicle, a silver Dodge Ram 1500 with Dealer Plates AR Auto, was located Wednesday afternoon.
Officer Singh was a native of Fiji and had been employed by Newman Police Department since July 2011, the department said.
"Our Newman Police family is devastated by the loss of Ronil,” Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said in a statement.
During a news conference Thursday, Richardson choked up as he spoke about his colleague.
"This is the man that I relieved on Christmas Day so he could spend time with his family and his newborn child," Richardson said with tears rolling down his face. "What needs to be known is that he was truly just a human being and an American patriot. Ron was not born in America. He was born in Fiji. He came to this country with just one purpose, and that was to serve this country."
On his Facebook page, Singh had 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.
Singh is survived by his wife, Anamika, and a 5-month-old son, authorities said.
Stanislaus County Sworn Deputies Association has set up a memorial fund for Singh and his family. Those who want to help can donate online or checks can be made payable to "Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Fund" at Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association PO Box 2314 Ceres, CA 95307.
Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown offered condolences to 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.
In a tweet late Thursday President Donald Trump said the suspect's alleged undocumented status shows the need for a border crackdown.
Trump said that a "full scale" manhunt is underway for the assailant and that it's "time to get tough on Border Security." He ended the message with: "Build the Wall!"
Trump's tweet comes during a partial government shutdown over an impasse on funding his wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Officials have set up a tip line at 209-525-7202.