Dairy worker from Mexico with prior DUIs charged with murder of California officer
MODESTO, Calif. (AP) - A man charged with the killing of a police officer in Northern California made his first court appearance but did not enter a plea.
The Modesto Bee reports Gustavo Perez Arriaga, a Mexican national, told the judge Wednesday his true name is Paulo Virgen Mendoza. His attorney questioned his mental competency, prompting the court to suspend the case until Perez Arriaga gets a mental evaluation.
Perez Arriaga was arrested Friday in the Dec. 26 shooting of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh during a traffic stop. The 33-year-old Singh is survived by a wife and 5-month-old son.
Authorities say Perez Arriaga was in the country illegally and had previous arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol.
He was arrested Friday after a dayslong manhunt as he prepared to flee to Mexico, officials said. Singh pulled over the suspect Dec. 26 to investigate if he was driving drunk, when he was killed.
Singh was also an immigrant, coming to the U.S. legally from his native Fiji to pursue his dream of serving in law enforcement, authorities have said. He joined the 12-officer Newman police force in 2011.
A complaint lists three aliases for Perez Arriaga, including one matching that of two brothers who were arrested on suspicion of helping him evade authorities. Five others have also been charged with helping him. Authorities say that Perez Arriaga had two prior DUIs and worked on dairy farms.
The case has rekindled a debate over California's sanctuary law that limits cooperation with federal immigration officials. President Donald Trump seized on the case to call for tougher border security amid a fight with congressional Democrats over funding for a border wall, which has forced a 12-day partial government shutdown.