Authorities searching for man who killed California officer

This Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018 image from a surveillance camera video and provided by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department shows a suspect police are searching for in connection to the fatal shooting of an officer during a traffic stop in Northern California. (Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department via AP)

SAN FRANCISCO — Authorities searched Wednesday for a gunman who shot and killed a police officer during a traffic stop in a small California town.

Newman Police Officer Ronil Singh, 33, had called in the traffic stop early Wednesday and a few minutes later reported “shots fired” over his radio, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement.

Multiple agencies responded and found Singh with gunshot wounds. The husband and father of an infant child was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A manhunt was underway for the killer, who was believed to be driving a grey Dodge Ram pickup truck when the shooting happened around 1 a.m. in Newman, about 100 miles (160 kilometres) southeast of San Francisco.

Authorities released photographs of the suspect and the truck that were taken by surveillance cameras at a convenience store moments before the traffic stop.

Sgt. Tom Letras, a sheriff’s spokesman, said authorities do not know the suspect’s name.

In the photos, the heavyset suspect with short dark hair is wearing a thick chain necklace. jeans, navy blue hoodie and navy T-shirt.

Singh was a native of Fiji and had worked since July 2011 for the police department in Newman, a town of about 10,000 people. Earlier in his career, Singh worked as a deputy with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

On his Facebook page, Singh posted pictures on Christmas Eve from a deep sea fishing trip that produced a big haul of crabs and fish. The profile picture shows him smiling as he stands at a patrol car with a dog — the same photograph of the officer released by the sheriff’s department.

Singh is survived by his wife, Anamika, and a 5-month-old son, authorities said.

Outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown offered condolences to Singh’s family and said flags at the Capitol would fly at half-staff in his honour.

“Our hearts are with the entire community of Newman and law enforcement officers across the state who risk their lives every day to protect and serve the people of California,” Brown said.

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