‘We’re here for you’: Dozens gather outside courthouse to support family of slain corporal
Several dozen people gathered Wednesday outside the Stanislaus Superior Courthouse in downtown Modesto to show their respect for slain Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh and their support for his family as well as for other law enforcement officers and their loved ones as the man charged in Singh’s death appeared in court.
Many of those at the rally held signs backing law enforcement and questioning California’s immigration laws and sanctuary policies. Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson has said the man charged in Singh’s death entered this country illegally from Mexico several years ago, had two DUI arrests in Madera County, and should not have been in the United States.
The sheriff also has said California’s immigration laws restrict the ability of local law enforcement to work with federal immigration officials to deport criminals in this country illegally.
Singh was fatally shot Dec. 26 while stopping a motorist he suspected of driving under the influence. Authorities had identified the suspect in Singh’s slaying as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32. But Arriaga said in court Wednesday that his real name is Paulo Virgen Mendoza.
Jann Mathies, Singh’s neighbor and friend of nine years, said she is against California’s immigration laws and said voters should have been able to weigh in on the issue. But advocates say the laws protect law-abiding immigrants regardless of their legal status and encourage them to report crimes in their communities to local law enforcement.
“We are brokenhearted and sickened at what is happening to our officers,” said Mathies, who attended Wednesday’s rally. “When they go through so much training to protect us and to have their life just wiped out so needlessly just makes us heartsick.”
Mathies said people coming together can lead to change. “I think sometimes people think, ‘I am only one person, what can I do?’ but you see what happens when one person decides to make a sign and get in their car and come down here,” Mathies said.
The rally was organized by three women, two of them wives of law enforcement officers, who put together a Facebook page over the weekend called “Stand Together To Make Change.”
Kerrie Crain — who was one of the rally organizers and whose husband is a sheriff’s deputy — said the deaths of local officers (three have been killed by gunfire since 2012) has led her to beg her husband to retire.
“Because I can’t handle losing him and not having him be there to raise our children,” Crain said. “I don’t know what it is going to take before law enforcement officers stop being murdered for simply doing their job. They have a target on their back the minute they walk out that door, put on that uniform and get in that car.”
As Singh’s family and other Newman officers left the courthouse, members of the rally told them: “We are here for you” and “We love you.”
Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said Wednesday that the Sheriff’s Department is filling in this week as his department of 10 officers gets through Singh’s funeral and associated events. A procession from Modesto to Newman, where a public visitation will take place, is scheduled on Friday; the funeral is Saturday.
Friday’s procession will go from Paradise Road to Carpenter Road to Crows Landing Road to Highway 33, where it will enter Newman and end at the West Side Theater on Main Street. Public visitation is set there from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by visitation at Salas Brothers Funeral Home in Modesto from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday’s funeral will take place at 10 a.m. at CrossPoint Community Church in Modesto. A burial at Lakewood Memorial Park in Hughson will follow.
A Newman Police Department Facebook post states the department will reopen Monday.