Stretch of highway in California named after slain Indian-origin police officer

Washington: To honour a fallen national hero, a stretch of a highway in the US state of California has been named after 33-year-old Indian-origin police officer Ronil Singh who was shot and killed by an illegal immigrant in 2018.

The stretch of Highway 33 in Newman was dedicated on Saturday to Singh from the Newman Police Department, the Modesto Bee newspaper reported.

Signage proclaiming the “Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Highway” stands at Highway 33 and Stuhr Road.

Singh, a native of Fiji joined the force in July 2011. A suspected drunk driver fatally shot him on December 26, 2018. A three-day manhunt led to his killer, Paulo Virgen Mendoza, being apprehended at a relative’s house in Kern County. He pleaded guilty in November 2020 to Singh’s murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A ceremony to unveil the sign was held following the community’s Tunnel to Towers 5K walk and run.

Singh’s wife, Anamika, their son, Arnav, who was just 5 months old when his father was killed, and other family members were at the event.

They were joined by his Newman Police Department colleagues and officials including county Supervisor Channce Condit, state Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil, US Representative John Duarte and Assemblyman Juan Alanis.

Messages written on the back of the sign included Arnav’s, which reads “Love you Papa.” “Today the community came together to honour the memory of Cpl. Ronil Singh, who was tragically killed in the line of duty in December 2018. The memorial highway sign was unveiled today and will be displayed on Highway 33 and Stuhr Road,” Alanis posted on X.

“I was honoured to pay my respects to my former law enforcement colleague, and may his memory live on forever,” he said.

The California Department of Transportation also posted on X, “Today, #Caltrans joined the community members, friends and family of Cpl. Ronil Singh to dedicate a highway memorial in his name on State Route 33 through the @cityofNewman.

In September 2019, the Assembly Transportation Committee passed a resolution for the Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Highway in western Stanislaus and Merced counties. But the report added that naming a stretch of Highway 33 near Newman in honour of Singh later stalled.

The effort was reignited when Condit approached state Alvarado-Gil about the memorial after she was elected in November 2022 and sworn into office. Condit told her more action was required to designate the memorial highway, and her office went to work with Caltrans to choose the location for the memorial highway section, it said.

In 2019, former US President Donald Trump described Singh as a “national hero.” He also spoke with the family members and law enforcement colleagues of Singh and said America’s heart broke the day the young officer was “savagely murdered” in cold blood by an “illegal alien”.

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