Thousands attend community vigil for slain California police officer Ronil 'Ron' Singh

NEWMAN, Calif. (WPVI) -- A grieving community in Northern California is taking its first steps toward healing. A vigil was held Friday night, for Newman Police Corporal Ronil "Ron" Singh.

The 33-year-old officer, who came to the U.S. from his native Fiji, was shot early Wednesday after stopping the man he suspected of driving drunk in Newman.

The gunman got away, leading authorities on a statewide manhunt. The suspected shooter's arrest was announced early Friday.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters that Gustavo Perez Arriaga surrendered without incident. Youngblood says the 33-year-old Mexico native came out of a home in Bakersfield with his hands up after SWAT officers came to arrest him Friday.

Youngblood said that besides Perez Arriaga's brother and co-worker, three others were arrested on suspicion of helping the suspect elude authorities.

RELATED: Police officer shot, killed in California; manhunt underway for suspect, who authorities say is in US illegally

There was a gunfight as the K-9 officer "absolutely tried to defend himself" but he apparently didn't hit the suspect, said Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson, whose agency is leading the investigation.

Singh is being remembered by the chief as an "American patriot."

In front of Friday night's crowd of thousands stood Coporal Singh's family. His wife, five-month-old son, his K9 Sam and others were surrounded by the large crowd.

RELATED: Gustavo Perez Arriaga, the man accused of shooting, killing Newman Police Corporal Ronil 'Ron' Singh captured

Turnout at the vigil did not surprise the Singh family.

"I wasn't, I know Ron," the Corporal's uncle, Aklesh Singh said. "Ron was just that kind of person."

Coordinators opened the floor to those wanting to share memories of the fallen officer. For much of the vigil, it was testimony through tears.

A thin blue line wrapped around each pole, tree and the Christmas tree at the downtown plaza.

Many who attended told 6abc sister station ABC7 the vigil is proof that small town spirit is stronger than what some might assume.

Patrick Nagy, the Mayor of the neighboring town of Gustine said this about small towns, "We come out when someone is hurt. When someone is in need of a show of faith."

For those in Newman, their faith was tested in Wednesday's tragic shooting death. However, a portion of that faith was restored with Friday's arrest announcement.

"I texted everyone I knew," Newman resident, Ester Aguilar said. "I was like, 'They got him! They got him!'"

Newman resident, Teresa Smith told ABC7 News, "I'm glad that he had his handcuffs- that jewelry on his wrist on his way up here."

However, for Singh's family, what the community is calling a victory is doing little to ease the pain of the senseless loss.
"It's just unfortunate. We lost a role model, our kids and grand-kids lost a role model," Aklesh Singh said.

But memories of Corporal Singh will last. The community who came together on a cold December night say they'll make sure of it.

"It shows the type of person he was, the type of officer he was," Teresa Smith said. "Because if he wasn't good, there might have been a showing, but not like this."

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