A man was arrested for allegedly killing an Indian-origin police officer in California’s Newman County, when he was planning to flee to his native Mexico, police said.
The suspect, identified as 33-year-old Gustavo Perez Arriaga and living illegally, was arrested from a home in the Kern County, about 200 miles south from the place of the shooting, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson was quoted as saying in the CNN.
Corporal Ronil Singh, 33, pulled over the suspect just before 1 am on Wednesday and a few moments later he called out “shot fired” over the radio.
Other officers who reached the spot found Singh shot and took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Singh was a native of Fiji and joined the force in July 2011.
Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said at a Friday news conference that this had never happened in the history of the 12-member department.
Arriaga came to the US illegally and was believed to have been fleeing to Mexico, he said, adding that the suspect was arrested twice previously for driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and had known gang affiliation.
Arriaga’s brother, Adrian Virgen, 25, and coworker, Erik Razo Quiroz, 32, were arrested on Thursday for felony. Virgen was arrested in Hanford and Quiroz in Modesto, Christianson said.
He said they were trying to protect Arriaga, who was trying to go to Mexico.
Christianson said Virgen and Quiroz were also in the US illegally.
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood said two men and a woman were also arrested from the home where Arriaga was found.
The three have been identified as Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda, 59; Erasmo Villegas, 36; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, he was quoted in as saying in the report.
Youngblood said he could not confirm whether the three were in the country illegally.
At the news conference, Christianson had strong words about immigration and border security.
“We can’t ignore the fact that this could have been preventable,” he said, adding that California Senate Bill 54--which became law last year--prohibited his department “from sharing any information with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USICE) about this criminal gang member”.
The bill bars law enforcement agencies from detaining a person due to a hold request, responding to federal immigration enforcement’s requests for notification or providing information about a person’s release date unless that’s already available publicly.
It also requires notification to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of scheduled releases of people who have been convicted of violent felonies.
“This is a criminal illegal alien with prior criminal activity that should have been reported to USICE,” Christianson said.
“Law enforcement was prohibited because of sanctuary laws and that led to the encounter with Officer Singh. I am suggesting that the outcome could have been different if law enforcement wasn’t restricted, prohibited or had their hands tied because of political interference.”