SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Authorities launched a manhunt on Wednesday after they said an armed man shot and killed a police officer at a traffic stop in a small town in California.
In a warning, the California Highway Patrol said the suspect, whose name was unknown, was classified as armed and dangerous.
Newman police officer Ronil Singh, 33, had stopped at the station early Wednesday. He said he was driving past a gray Dodge pickup truck that did not have a license plate, and a few minutes later, shots on his radio reported Stanislaus County Sheriff's Deputy Royjinder Singh said.
Several agencies responded and found Singh with gunshot wounds. They took the husband and father of a baby boy to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Based on surveillance photos taken just before the attack in Newman, about 160 kilometers southeast of San Francisco, Ground and Air Force units searched for the suspect.
In the photos, the heavy suspect with short dark hair wears a thick chain, jeans, a dark hoodie and a dark T-shirt.
Surveillance equipment also detected the suspect's vehicle, a gray Dodge Ram pickup with paper signs that corresponded to the description Singh had requested. The authorities later found the vehicle and said it was processed for evidence.
"We have sent information to law enforcement agencies in the state and outside of California," said Sgt. Tom Letras, a sheriff's spokesman.
Singh was born in Fiji and since July 2011 has been working for the police department in Newman, a city of about 10,000 inhabitants. At the beginning of his career Singh worked as a deputy in the Sheriff Department of Merced County.
"He lived the American dream," said Stanislaus Deputy Singh, who is not related to the killed officer, but knew him. After emigrating from Fiji, Ronil Singh went to the police academy and got his dream job, the deputy said, adding, "He loved camping, loved hunting, loved fishing, loved his family."
On his Facebook page, Ronil Singh posted pictures for Christmas Eve of a deep-sea fishing where crabs and fish were hunted down , The profile picture shows him smiling as he stands with a dog in front of a patrol car – the same photo of the officer released by the sheriff's department.
Singh is survived by his wife Anamika and a five-month-old son, authorities said.
Outgoing California governor Jerry Brown expressed his condolences to Singh's family and said flags in the Capitol would honor him in half staff.
"Our hearts are with the entire Newman community and law enforcement agencies across the state who risk their lives every day to protect and serve the people of California," said Brown.
Amanda Lee Myers, associate press journalist in Los Angeles, contributed to this story.