NEAR SAN JOSE (CBS Sacramento/AP) — Authorities throughout California were hunting the man suspected of killing a police officer during a traffic stop in the Northern California town of Newman, east of San Jose, in the early morning hours Wednesday.
Police agencies in and out of California were alerted to watch for the heavyset, chain-wearing suspect in the slaying of 33-year-old Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh, Stanislaus County sheriff’s Sgt. Tom Letras said.
Investigators told CBS Sacramento they were having trouble identifying the suspect.
A truck believed to have been the one stopped by Singh was later found in a garage in a mobile home park about four miles from the shooting.
Carlos Salazar, who lives at the mobile home park, told CBS Sacramento he recognized the man to be his neighbor.
“It’s a bit weird,” Salazar said. “You wouldn’t think it’s a neighbor, you know. You don’t know what kind of people, people are, I guess.”
Salazar stood with other neighbors as investigators served a search warrant at a home in the mobile home park. There, they found the grey Dodge Ram truck they believe the suspect was driving. Authorities took the vehicle into custody to search for clues about the owner.
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 85 miles east of San Jose.
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.
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.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)