NEWMAN (CBS13) – The city of Newman is mourning the loss of one of their own after a traffic stop early Wednesday morning cost a corporal his life. Now Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputies are searching for the suspect they believe is responsible.
"It really hits home when it's one of our own!" said Helen Monahan, who lives in Newman.
Corporal Ronil Singh was conducting a traffic stop just before 1 a.m. on Wednesday. Authorities say he pulled over a grey Dodge pickup truck because it had paper plates. Singh called in the vehicle description over the radio but moments later, he made another call saying, "shots fired, I've been hit."
"We just heard gunshots and so we came out to look outside," said Vanessa De Leon, who lives nearby.
Deputies rushed to the scene at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue. Singh was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
"It's horrible, always horrible when you lose an officer," said Leo Rodriguez, who lives in Tracy.
Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department is now focused on finding the driver they believe fired the shots, killing Singh.
Authorities released still pictures from surveillance video at a local convenience store hoping the public could help identify the man. Carlos Salazar, who lives at a mobile home park on River Road, told CBS13 he recognized the man to be his neighbor.
"It's a bit weird," Salazar said. "You wouldn't 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.
"I don't talk to him that much, I don't even know his name," Salazar said.
But deputies are talking to everyone to track down the elusive suspect.
"They obviously don't have any respect for life, especially if they would take an officer's life," Rodriguez said.
Singh had served on the Newman Police Department since July 2011. He emigrated from the Fijian Islands, graduated from the police academy and became a K9 officer. People say Singh brought laughter to the town and the small force of 13 officers.
"Christmas was yesterday and it's just awful, I don't know what else to say!" Monahan said.
Investigators told CBS13 they're having trouble locking down an ID for the suspect, as they have several leads they are following.
Newman's Police Chief will speak at 11 a.m. on Thursday to address the Department's loss and give the latest on the search for the suspect.
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