This booking photo provided by the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department shows Gustavo Perez Arriaga. Perez Arriaga, suspected of gunning down a California policeman, was in the U.S. illegally and was captured while planning to flee to his native Mexico, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson announced, Friday, Dec. 28, 2018, as he all but blamed the state's sanctuary law for the officer's death. (Courtesy of Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department via AP)

Immigration officials say they had no contact with suspect

December 31, 2018 - 1:06 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — U.S. immigration authorities say they had no contact with a Mexican national suspected of killing a California police officer until the man was arrested last week.

The killing rekindled a national debate over sanctuary policies and prompted President Trump to call for tougher border security.

The disclosure by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement calls into question contentions that suspect Gustavo Perez Arriaga had benefited from policies that forbid local police from cooperating with immigration officials.

The agency emailed a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle on Sunday saying it had placed its first immigration detainer on 33-year-old Perez Arriaga after the Dec. 26 killing.

Perez Arriaga, who was in the country illegally and had previous arrests, was taken into custody Friday on suspicion of killing Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh, 33. The arrest followed a two-day manhunt.

Perez Arriaga is expected to face murder charges that will be filed before his arraignment on Wednesday, said John Goold, a spokesman for the Stanislaus County district attorney's office.

It could not be immediately determined if he had an attorney.

Authorities have charged seven other people with aiding Perez Arriaga after the killing.

Sheriff Adam Christianson, who led the investigation, blamed California's sanctuary law for preventing local authorities from reporting Perez Arriaga to U.S. immigration officials for deportation after two previous drunken driving arrests. The sheriff also said Perez Arriaga had gang affiliations.

A spokesman for Gov. Jerry Brown said Friday that police could have informed federal authorities. if the suspect was a known gang member.

Singh was also an immigrant who came from Fiji to pursue his dream of becoming a police officer, authorities said. Singh had a 5-month-old son and joined the 12-officer Newman police force in 2011.

Funeral and viewing services for Singh are scheduled for Friday and Saturday.


Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,