NEWMAN (CBS13/AP) – The suspect in the killing of a Newman officer is in United States illegally, authorities say.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told reporters Thursday that authorities have identified a suspect but didn't name him. Authorities are still searching for the attacker.
Christianson's agency is leading the investigation into the slaying of Cpl. Ronil Singh of the small-town Newman Police Department.
Newman's Chief of Police Randy Richardson fought back tears while talking about Singh. Richardson went into detail about Singh's life and how he came to the US from Fiji to be a police officer.
"He came to this country with one purpose, and that was to serve this country," Richardson said.
Richardson said he relieved Singh on Christmas Day so that the officer could spend time with his wife and child.
"He will never see his son walk - he doesn't get to hold that little boy, hug his wife, say goodnight, anymore because a coward took his life," Richardson said.
Singh was a K9 officer, partnered with a dog named Sam. As a result of Singh's murder, Richardson says, Sam will be retired from duty.
"I will not take another member of that family away," Richardson said of K9 Sam.
The sheriff says Singh pulled over the attacker as part of a DUI investigation Wednesday. Singh and the suspect exchanged gunfire, with the sheriff characterizing the incident as a gunfight.
"Cpl. Singh absolutely tried to defend himself and stop this credible threat," Christianson said.
Authorities believe the suspect is still somewhere in Stanislaus County.
A tip line has been set up for the case. Anyone with relevant information is asked to call (209) 525-7202.
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