NEWMAN, Calif. (KFSN) -- The police chief of a tiny California police department choked up as he spoke about one of his officers who was killed the day after Christmas. Chief Randy Richardson remembered Cpl. Ronil Singh as an "American patriot" who came to the U.S. to become a police officer and loved his wife and 5-month-old son dearly.
The Fiji-born Singh was shot during a traffic stop Wednesday. Richardson pleaded for the public to help bring the attacker to justice as authorities search for the suspect.
Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson told reporters that the suspect is in the United States illegally. Investigators have evidence to believe he could still be in the county.
Here's the full transcription of Richardson's emotional statement at the news conference:
"Like I said, please bear with me, I know I won't get through this without having to take a few minutes. This is not a big department, this is a department of 12.
This is a man that I saw every day he worked. This is a man who I relieved on Christmas Day so he could go home and spend time with his family and his newborn child. I think what's being lost here is yes, he was a police officer, and that's why all of you are packed in this room. Because he was tragically taken from us. But what needs to be known is that he was truly just a human being and an American patriot.
Ron was not born in America. Ron was born in Fiji. He came to this country with one purpose - and that was to serve this country. When I took over as police chief we had some vacancies in the department and one of my first hires was Ronil Singh. He had a thick accent. He was hard to understand at times because English was not his first language. I believe it was his third language. When I sat with him in the chief's interview, he told me he came to America to become a police officer. That's all he wanted to do. He truly loved what he did.
You've never seen a man smile more than him. I know that's said a lot in these things. But you ask anybody, he was never in a bad mood. It was unreal. He loved what he did. He loved being a police officer, he loved being a husband, he loved being a father, he loved to hunt, he loved to fish. He loved to go out in the ocean and spearfish, to jet ski, ride his fly board.
You have to understand this was not supposed to happen here. I've been to too many of these funerals and I never thought that I would ever have to do this. I do not want to be here today. I would give anything not to.
I did not know Christmas morning at 4 a.m. when I said goodbye to him and sent him off to his family, that it would be the last time that I saw him.
My department is hurting. We are struggling through this. So please keep in mind when you see them, that it's hard for them. We're a family. We're not an agency, we're a family.
The overwhelming support from everyone, from the sheriff's department taking the lead on this investigation. Their overwhelming support to handle the streets while my officers can grieve. The Modesto Police Department, the Oakdale Police Department, the Turlock Police Department, the Ceres Police Department, I know I'm forgetting many. Overwhelming support across the nation that has come in is tremendous and we are truly grateful. I'm sure I left a lot of people out and I'm sorry for that.
This was Ron (said while holding up a photo of the fallen officer). He moved the Christmas tree in front of the flag to take his own picture to send to us. He wasn't wanting to work Christmas but he knew he had to, it just fell on his squad and he was okay with it. He was a K-9 handler. His dog there Sam was with him when that tragic event took place.
When I pulled Sam out of the car, Sam was wearing a Mrs. Claus outfit that he had put on her, because it was just the kind of guy he was. Just did little things like that, just to bring smiles to peoples' faces. Sure she was a narcotics and he would have loved to pull over a car and use his narcotics K-9 to arrest someone with Sam in a Mrs. Claus outfit, cause he probably would have thought it was funny.
Please remember the man, please remember the husband, please remember what he was, what he came to this country to do.
Yes, he was a police officer, but more importantly he was a human being. And that's how he would want to be remembered. He was proud to wear the uniform and he does want to be remembered as a police officer.
But don't forget the other things, the little things that are oftentimes forgotten in these stories. That his 5-month-old, he will never hear talk. He will never see his son walk. He doesn't get to hold that little boy, hug his wife, say goodnight anymore because a coward took his life.
Please help us find this man and bring him to justice. I hope he's watching today and does the right thing and turns himself in. We need closure. His family needs closure. This will never go away, but we need something, a win. We need something so we can move on.
Thank you so much for being here. I apologize for my emotions. I hope that Ron is never forgotten. I hope in a week, he is not forgotten."
If you have any tips, you can leave an anonymous tip by calling Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636. Tipsters can also e-mail tips at www.modestopolice.com/CrimeStoppers.
A memorial fund has been set up for Corporal Singh. Donations can be made several different ways:
Any West America Bank Branch to the Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Fund
(Newman Police Department)
Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association
Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Fund
PO Box 2314
Ceres, CA 95307
The Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association says please be aware there are NO other approved or authorized memorial fund or online fundraising accounts that will be established.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.