MODESTO – Paulo Virgen Mendoza, also known as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, pleaded guilty Thursday to the shooting death of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh.
Mendoza was captured after the December 26th, 2018 shooting of Corporal Singh and fleeing south. A relentless search by authorities led to his arrest three days later at a home near Bakersfield. Three other people were arrested in the case for aiding Mendoza. Authorities said he had entered the country illegally, and had two prior DUI arrests in the Madera/Chowchilla area.
The Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office said Mendoza entered the guilty plea, admitting to three special circumstances. Those circumstances included committing the murder in an attempt to evade arrest, killing a police officer in the performance of his duties, and discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle with the intent to inflict death.
Mendoza also admitted to acting intentionally, deliberately and with premeditation, as well as intentionally discharging a firearm causing death. Both were enhancements to his charges.
As part of his plea deal, Mendoza waived his right to appeal the decision. In exchange, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to stop seeking the death penalty. Mendoza agreed to life in state prison without the possibility of parole.
Mendoza was sentenced by Judge Ricardo Cordova and remanded for transportation to state prison.
Corporal Singh left behind a wife and infant son of five months at the time of the shooting.
“He came to America to become a police officer,” said Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson during a press conference on December 27th, 2018.
“You have to understand, this was not supposed to happen here.”
Corporal Singh, a K-9 officer with his partner Sam, was a native of Fiji and was deeply loved and respected by his peers and community.
“Please remember the man, please remember what he came to this country to do,” said Richardson. “Yes he was a police officer, but more importantly he was a human being.”
Click below to view original video from the case.
Fire Burns Along San Joaquin River Near Newman
NEWMAN – A brush fire burning along the San Joaquin River summoned a response from multiple fire crews Thursday.
At about 2:00pm firefighters responded to the area near Hills Ferry and River Roads for a report of a brush fire. Arriving fire crews requests more resources to the scene as the fire quickly grew.
By 2:30pm the fire had begun to burn on the east side of the San Joaquin River. Several trees, bushes, grass and at least one structure all caught fire.
Firefighters from Newman, West Stanislaus, Merced County, Mountainview and Woodland Avenue all responded to the scene. Newman Police and CHP officers provided traffic control.
No cause was available Tuesday afternoon.
Firefighters Respond to Brush Fire
STANISLAUS COUNTY – Firefighters from Salida and Escalon responded to a vegetation fire on Carver Road Tuesday night.
The fire was reported shortly after 10:00pm on Carver Road just north of Ladd Road. Neighbors in the area reported hearing a boom shortly before seeing flames burning into dry brush. One neighbor said it appeared the fire was growing quickly, but the response from firefighters was just as fast.
The fire burned on both sides of Carver Road and extended to a few acres. It was controlled in about an hour by fire crews. A cause was unavailable Tuesday night.
Police Investigate Report of Stabbing
MODESTO – Police responded to a report of a person stabbed Tuesday night near Downtown Modesto.
The report was dispatched shortly after 9:00pm to the area of Tenth and K Streets. Early reports indicate the victim was stabbed and fled to Cesar Chavez Park where he called for help.
Police, fire and medical personnel responded to the park where they located the victim. He appeared to have visible wounds and blood on his back. He was taken by ambulance for care.
Officers searched the area near where the stabbing was said to have occurred for any signs of a crime scene. A confirmed suspect description and circumstances surrounding the incident were not available at time of publication.
Anyone with information regarding this case is encouraged to contact the Modesto Police Department or Crime Stoppers at (209) 521-4636 where callers can remain anonymous.
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