Gustavo Perez Arriaga has been arrested in connection to the shooting death of Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department. Arriaga was apprehended the morning of December 28 in Bakersfield by Kern County Sheriff’s deputies.
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, which has been leading the investigation, shared on social media that Arriaga will be charged with homicide. Officials said four additional people face charges for helping Arriaga escape.
Arriaga, 32, is accused of shooting Corporal Singh during a traffic stop after midnight on December 26, 2018. Singh was shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Motive For the Shooting Was Unknown & Sheriff’s Deputies Refrained From Speculating
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department was asked by Newman Police to lead the investigation. Deputies shared that the shooting occured early in the morning on December 26, 2018, at the intersection of Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue in Newman.
Corporal Singh called in a traffic stop shortly before 1 a.m. Singh suspected the driver was under the influence of alcohol. Within just a couple of minutes, Singh got back on the radio to report that shots had been fired and he was hit. Singh exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
Singh’s partner arrived at the scene and found him suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. Singh was located near his own vehicle. He was rushed to the hospital, where he passed away from his injuries. The suspect had fled the scene.
After Arriaga was arrested, Sheriff Christianson was asked about the possible motive. He responded that it would be inappropriate for him to speculate on that.
2. Deputies Identified Gustavo Perez Arriaga & Revealed He Was an Illegal Immigrant But Waited Until After He Had Been Arrested to Publicly Release His Name
The identity of the accused gunman was unknown for several hours following the deadly shooting. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department shared images of the suspect from a convenience store, in the hopes that someone would recognize him.
Officials later revealed that the suspect was an illegal immigrant. Sheriff Christianson said they had identified the man but held off on officially releasing his name.
The department unveiled the suspect’s name as Gustavo Perez Arriaga after he was arrested at a home in Bakersfield. The home had been under surveillance for 24 hours prior to the arrest.
One of the clues that helped lead investigators to the home in Bakersfield was the discovery of the getaway vehicle. The gray Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, which had paper plates, was found near a mobile home park on River Road. Deputies said they were investigating who actually owned the truck.
3. Police: Arriaga Was Trying to Flee to Mexico, Claimed to Be Part of a Street Gang & Had Been Arrested at Least Twice Before For Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
Sheriff Adam Christianson shared in a news conference after the arrest that Arriaga had meant to flee to Mexico after the shooting. He also told investigators that he was a member of the Sureno street gang. Christianson added that Arriaga used social media to promote himself as a gangster. Arriaga had reportedly worked as a farm laborer in the area.
Christianson explained that Arriaga illegally crossed the border into Arizona a few years ago. He had two prior arrests for DUI.
The sheriff also commented on current border security laws, including criticism for sanctuary city laws. He said that local law enforcement should be able to turn over repeat offenders to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The sheriff shared that Arriaga was found due to the collective efforts of multiple agencies. He thanked the Department of Homeland Security, ICE, the FBI, and U.S. Customs for assisting in the manhunt. Christianson also praised their partners in Kern County for apprehending Arriaga in Bakersfield.
4. Police: Arriaga’s Two Brothers, Girlfriend & Coworker Will Face Charges For Trying to Help Him Escape
Investigators shared during a news conference on December 27 that the suspect they were pursuing, now identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, was the only person involved in Corpral Singh’s death.
But four other people will face charges for allegedly trying to help Arriaga evade police. Deputies identified two of them the same day they arrested Arriaga as 25-year-old Adrian Virgen and 27-year-old Erik Razo Quiroz. Sheriff Christianson said Virgen is Arriaga’s brother and that Quiroz was his coworker.
Christianson said the two men “intentionally lied to us, tried to divert us, they misled us, they provided informartion that was false, all in an attempt to protect their brother.”
Virgen was arrested in Hanford and Quiroz was arrested in Modesto. They both face a charge of accessory after the fact to a felony.
On December 29, deputies shared that Arriaga’s girfriend and his other brother would also face charges for helping him to escape. Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, was arrestes in Turlock. Conrado Virgen Mendoza was apprehended in Livermore.
5. Corporal Ronil Singh Was a Married Father & Had Been With the Newman Police Since 2011
Corporal Ronil Singh was just 33 years old. He and his wife, Anamika, had recently welcomed a baby boy. The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department shared that their son was 5 months old. They lived in Modesto.
Singh was originally from Fiji. He earned a college degree in his native country in 2003. After moving to the United States, he went back to school. Singh studied criminal justice at Modesto Junior College and graduated in 2009.
While working toward his degree, Singh was also employed by the city of Turlock. According to his Facebook page, Singh then worked for the Merced Sheriff’s Department in 2010. He joined the Newman Police Department in July 2011.
Newman police chief Randy Richardson explained in a news conference on December 27 that Singh had come to the United States with the intent of becoming a police officer. He was proud to defend his community. He called Singh a “true American patriot.”