Ronil Singh, a 33-year-old Indian-origin police officer in California, United States, was shot dead by an “armed” unidentified gunman while he was conducting a traffic stop.

Corporal Ronil Singh of the Newman Police Department was shot and killed during a traffic stop when he was “working overtime on Christmas night to provide the best for his family.”

“A few moments later he called out ‘shots fired’ over the radio,” the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department, which is leading the investigation, said in a statement.

“Multiple agencies responded to assist, and Singh was found at the scene with gunshot wounds.”

He was transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead, the department said.

According to the department, the suspect fled the crime scene in his vehicle before the police arrived. Leading the investigation, the department have released surveillance photographs of the suspect and vehicle, asking for any information on the identity of the suspect.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) described him as Hispanic.

“Suspect is considered armed and dangerous and may be in possession of a firearm,” the CHP said.

Ronil Singh was a veteran of more than 7 years at the Newman Police Department and was assigned as a canine officer. Prior to joining the Newman Police Department, he served with the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

Ronil Singh is survived by his wife, Anamika, and 5-month old son.

A report in KCRA3 news said that Mr Singh was a native of Fiji and had immigrated to America. It quoted Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Raj Singh as saying that he knew the officer who was killed.

“He was living the American Dream. He immigrated here from the Fiji Islands, just like my parents did, and was definitely enjoying the American Dream,” Deputy Raj Singh said.

Tributes and condolence messages for Ronil Singh poured in from police departments and officials across the country.

California Governor Edmund Brown extended his condolences to Mr Singh’s wife, their young son and colleagues.

“Our hearts are with the entire community of Newman and law enforcement officers across the state who risk their lives every day to protect and serve the people of California,” Governor Brown said.

In honour of Ronil Singh, Capitol flags in California will be flown at half-staff, the Governor’s office said.

The New York City Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James P O’Neill tweeted that the entire New York Police Department is “thinking of the family, friends and colleagues of Corporal Ronil Singh… of the Newman Police Department (CA), who was murdered early this morning while conducting a traffic stop – just hours after taking Christmas photos with his wife and son. #NeverForget.”

The New York Police Department, in a separate tweet, said after years of service with the Newman Police Department, “Singh was shot & killed while conducting a traffic stop shortly after Christmas day. We mourn the loss of this hero and send our condolences to his friends, family, and colleagues.”

The Indian Officers’ Society at the NYPD expressed sadness at Mr Singh’s death, tweeting that he was killed in the line of duty and recalled his service to the community.

Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said the Newman Police family is devastated by Mr Singh’s death.

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