A stretch of Highway 33 in Newman, California, has been dedicated to honor Ronil Singh, the city’s Indian American police corporal who was fatally shot while conducting a traffic stop early December 26, 2018.
Signage proclaiming the “Corporal Ronil Singh Memorial Highway” stands at Highway 33 and Stuhr Road, according to the local Modesto Bee. In a poignant coincidence, 33 was Singh’s age when his life was taken.
A ceremony to unveil the sign was held on Saturday following the community’s Tunnel to Towers 5K walk and run. Present were Singh’s wife, Anamika, their son, Arnav, who was just 5 months old when his father was killed, and other family members.
They were joined by his Newman Police Department colleagues and officials including county Supervisor Channce Condit, state Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil, US Rep. John Duarte and Assemblyman Juan Alanis.
Messages written on the back of the sign included Arnav’s, which reads “Love you Papa.” Alanis, a former Stanislaus County sheriff’s deputy, posted on his Facebook page, “I was honored to pay my respects to my former law enforcement colleague, and may his memory live on forever.”
Alvarado-Gil wrote that Singh always will be a hero. “Today, a promise that was made has finally been brought to life,” she posted Saturday on Facebook.
“The Newman community honored the late Corporal Singh for his dedication and commitment to putting his life on the line for the safety of others.”
Singh was fatally shot by a suspected drunk driver early on Dec. 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.
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 process of naming a stretch of Highway 33 near Newman in honor of Singh later stalled, according to the Bee.
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.
Singh, who immigrated to the US from Fiji to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, joined the police department in 2011 after working for the Merced County Sheriff’s Office. Along with his wife and son, he left behind Sam, his black Labrador Retriever K-9 partner.
According to an April 2021 Associated Press report, at Paulo Virgen Mendoza’s trial, Singh’s widow said her deceased husband “loved his American dream of becoming a police officer,” and wanted his son to be a police officer as well.
She recalled at the trial how the family celebrated Christmas together before he kissed his 5-month-old son on the forehead, then “he told me, ‘I love you and I’ll see you in the morning.’”
That was Singh’s last shift. That night at 2 am a knock on the door from a fellow officer and a nightmarish ride to a hospital surrounded by officers from multiple agencies, later, Anamika Singh learned of her husband’s death.
According to the report, the widow told Mendoza at his trial that he “tore away my dreams … tore my love away from me and left me silently screaming.”