Memorial services for California officer killed after pulling over suspected drunk driver

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A memorial is put up for slain Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh. Jan. 1, 2018 Photo: Fox 40

Somber services began on Friday for a California police officer allegedly shot to death by an undocumented immigrant suspected of drinking and driving on the day after Christmas, while new details emerged about how the alleged killer was able to remain hidden for nearly two days.

People lined up, holding American flags along the streets of the town of Newman, Calif., 25 miles from Modesto, for Cpl. Ronil Singh, the first officer to die in the tiny department's history. A casket carrying his body and draped with an American flag was taken into a theater where the marquee read "Ronil Singh Forever Remember" and several officers were standing in salute position.

Singh, 33, was killed on Dec. 26, one day after he celebrated Christmas with his wife and 5-month-old son. He was the first officer killed in the department, consisting of 12 sworn officers.

After a two-day manhunt, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32, was arrested Friday in the small town of Lamont, just east of Bakersfield for Sonil's death. His photo was captured on surveillance video outside the market where Singh conducted the traffic stop. A witness saw the photo and told deputies where Arriaga might be hiding, federal court documents state. One of Arriaga's aliases is Pablo Virgen Mendoza. 

Arriaga, a dairy worker, was in the country illegally, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff and had two prior DUIs. 

The Stanislaus County District Attorney charged Arriaga with murder in state court, where his lawyer, Stephen Foley, asked that he be deemed mentally incompetent. Court documents indicate he used a 9 mm Smith and Wesson, which he had thrown in a Dumpster, as his weapon. 

In addition, his seven alleged accomplices were charged both in state and federal court on various counts of being an accessories after the fact, and for aiding and abetting. The accomplices have all been assigned public defenders, but have not yet entered pleas in the state case, according to Stanislaus County District Attorney spokesman John Goold. Bail was set at $100,000 each for the alleged accomplices.

The federal case sets up possible deportation removals as the accomplices are also undocumented. This week, Department of Homeland Security's Special Agent David Olya detailed in court documents the various roles the defendants allegedly played.

They include: 

Ana Leydi Cervantes Sanchez with providing her boyfriend Arriaga with several sets of clothing and failing to tell police where he was. Documents also indicate she was afraid of Arriaga, who was holding a gun at the time.

Conrado Virgen Mendoza for taking his brother, Arriaga, in his 4-door Dodge truck to try to find "safe harbor," and was with him when he discarded the weapon he used to kill Singh. After he learned that his brother had "shot a cop," court documents state, Mendoza said he went home and felt "bad and dirty." He admitted to at first lying to police to protect his brother. 

Erik Quiroz of using wooden boards to hide the truck Arriaga used during the murder and escape. Quiroz also allegedly took Arriaga from his home in Merced to a dairy in El Nido, Calif.

Adrian Virgen Mendoza was told of the murder and took Arriaga from the dairy to several homes in Buttonwillow and Bakersfield, Calif. to try to hide him. Mendoza also allegedly contacted a human trafficker and paid that person $400 to help Arriaga get to Mexico. Mendoza told authorities that Arriaga threatened to hurt his girlfriend and child.

Bernabe Madrigal Castaneda hid Arriaga in his home in Bakersfield and helped him buy a new cell phone by driving him to a Metro PCS store. 

Maria Luisa Moreno concealed and harbored Arriaga in her home in Bakersfield. She said that Arriaga told her he did something "wrong" because he was intoxicated. She was she was scared about being deported, which is why she didn't tell police where he was. 

Erasmo Villegas Suarez gave Arriaga clothing from his home and accepted $500 from a Western Union to help Arriaga get to Mexico.

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.