News & Politics

California Sheriff Blames Sanctuary State Law for Murder of Police Officer

Reggie Singh, brother of Newman Police officer Ronil Singh is overcome with emotion as he thanks law enforcement after the arrest of suspect Gustavo Perez Arriaga and others Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, at the Stanislaus County Sheriff's department in Modesto, Calif. (Joan Barnett Lee/The Modesto Bee via AP)

California law enforcement officers on Friday arrested the illegal immigrant fugitive who was wanted for killing Newman Police Department Corporal Ronil Singh, 33, on Wednesday. The Stanislaus County sheriff blamed the murder on SB-54, the state’s sanctuary law.

Gustavo Perez Arriaga was apprehended in Bakersfield, about 280 miles southeast of Newman, the Fresno County and Kern County sheriff’s offices confirmed. Several Hispanic individuals, including two of Arriaga’s brothers, were also arrested Friday for allegedly aiding and abetting Arriaga as he was heading back toward the border to Mexico.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters that officers cuffed the suspect using Cpl. Singh’s own handcuffs.

Arriaga, a criminal from Mexico, had crossed the U.S. border into Arizona illegally some time ago, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said at a separate news conference on Friday.

Christianson blamed the state’s sanctuary city policy for the murder, telling reporters that Arriaga had known gang affiliations, as well as two previous DUI arrests. If he had been reported, Christianson said, Singh would still be alive. Cpl. Singh was a native of Fiji and served on the Newman Police Department for over seven years.

At the press conference, Christianson introduced Singh’s tearful brother Reggie Singh, who expressed gratitude to law enforcement for dedicating themselves to finding his older brother’s killer.

“I’d like to thank you from the bottom of my heart [for making] this happen,” Singh sobbed. “I wish I could thank all the law enforcement agencies, Homeland Security in San Francisco — everyone — Bakersfield team.”

“I was waiting for this to happen,” said Singh. “I’d like to thank you [for] working day and night to make this happen. Thank you.”

Christianson told reporters that while the community should stay focused on Officer Singh’s service and sacrifice, “we can’t ignore the fact that this could have been preventable. And under SB-54 in California, based on two arrests for DUI and some other active warrants that this criminal has out there, law enforcement would have been preventedprohibited — from sharing any information with ICE about this criminal gang member.”

The sheriff continued: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is not how you protect a community. This is not how you assure the people who live in our community — regardless of their ethnicity, their culture, their race, any of that — that they live in a safe community because there are people who want to exploit and victimize others. And in this case, Officer Singh sacrificed everything. He paid the ultimate price trying to protect and serve the people of Newman. We need to have a conversation about that.”