A tragedy in the small Stanislaus County community of Newman again was in the national spotlight as President Donald Trump paid tribute to the family of Cpl. Ronil Singh at the National Peace Officers’ Memorial on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
Reggie Singh, the corporal’s brother, and Anamika Singh, his widow, spoke briefly during the ceremony Wednesday, thanking Trump after the president called them up to the dais.
“Whatever he’s doing for law enforcement, we support him,” said Reggie Singh, who earlier this year joined Trump at an appearance at the Mexican border. “His team at the White House has reached out to us multiple times ... I don’t think that has ever happened before.”
Authorities have said the defendant in Cpl. Singh’s slaying entered the United States illegally from Mexico.
Anamika Singh didn’t plan to speak, but changed her mind as she turned to leave the dais. Holding the couple’s 10-month-old baby, she also thanked Trump.
“You’re the only one that actually reached out,” she said to the president. “It means a lot to all of our law enforcement families that are here.”
Anamika Singh spoke of her husband’s “brothers and sisters in blue.”
“Every family sitting out here wants justice for what happened to their loved ones,” she said, fighting tears. “And that’s what I want for my husband.”
Singh family members also met with Trump in the White House, said Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson. Most of the Police Department made the trip to the ceremony.
“It’s an honor to be part of it,” Richardson said. “But I wish we did not have to be here. We would trade anything to have Ron back.”
Singh was fatally shot during a traffic stop in the early morning hours the day after Christmas 2018.
The defendant, Paulo Virgen Mendoza, was captured near Bakersfield after a 55-hour manhunt. Mendoza remains in custody at the Stanislaus County Jail and is scheduled to return to court for a pretrial hearing May 24. On that day, the judge could schedule a preliminary hearing to determine whether there’s enough evidence for Mendoza to stand trial.
Seven associates of Mendoza also were arrested in the case, charged with hiding him from authorities and helping him try to escape to Mexico.
Trump also used the occasion of the memorial to renew his call for tougher immigration laws.
“Not one more life should be lost because our lawmakers fail to secure our borders,” Trump said, according to The Washington Post.
Trump said Singh’s “vicious killer” could have been kept out of the country by a border wall or “whatever the hell it takes,” the Post reported.
“People are trying to come into our country because our country’s doing well,” Trump said. “They can’t come in like this killer came in.”
Additionally, Trump reiterated his call for the death penalty for anyone who kills a police officer.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse also was at the ceremony. A Stanislaus County deputy, Tony Hinostroza, was among those honored Wednesday. Hinostroza died in a car accident last year while responding to help other deputies on a call.
“I appreciate that the President singled out the Singh family and several others for their loss,” Dirkse said in a text message from Washington. “He clearly respects the tragedy that they’ve gone through.”
Dirkse, who took office in January, also called the show of support for fallen law enforcement officers “overwhelming and moving.”
“It’s been an honor to be here and connect with our professional brothers and sisters.”
Bee reporter Kevin Valine contributed to this report.