NEWMAN (CBS SF) — It may be the of the final image taken of slain Newman police officer Cpl. Ronil Singh. Five hours before he was killed by a suspect during a traffic stop, a photo was posted on social media of Singh, his wife, child and K-9 partner Sam in front of the family Christmas tree.

While the man suspected in the fatal shooting was arrested in Bakersfield early Friday, Sam was home with the Singh family, fulfilling his new role as a comfort dog.

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An emotional Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson told reporters Thursday that Sam was being retired and would spend the rest of his days as a family pet.

“Sam is already back home with the Singh family — where Sam belongs,” Richardson said his voice breaking up with emotion. “I will not take another member of that family from them.”

The truck used by the suspect was recovered abandoned in the Newman area. Authorities believed the suspect – who is in the United States illegally – remained in hiding in Stanislaus County, but Facebook photos have surfaced of the man spending time in the Bay Area.

Among the images is one of him standing in front of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Profile picture on the alleged suspect’s Facebook page in front of the Golden Gate Bridge (Facebook: Pablo Pvm Mendoza)

Police said Singh was killed just before 1 a.m. Wednesday during a traffic stop for suspected drunk driving at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue in Newman.

Multiple agencies responded to assist early Wednesday after Singh cried out “shots fired” over the radio and then went silent. He was found at the scene with gunshot wounds and transported to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

A ground and air search began after the fatal incident. Authorities were looking for a man seen in surveillance photos at a convenience store shortly before the shooting.

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Newman officer-shooting suspect

Newman officer-shooting suspect

He appeared to be a heavy man with short, dark hair, a silver chain, jeans, dark T-shirt and a dark jacket with white Ecko brand patches on the shoulders.

President Donald Trump, whose demand that Congress approve $5 billion for a U.S. southern border wall has led to a partial government shutdown, tweeted Thursday about Singh’s killing, ending with: “Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”

Singh, a 33-year-old with a newborn son, was an “American patriot,” his police chief said.

“He came to America with one purpose, and that was to serve this country,” Richardson said.

Singh drove more than two hours each way to attend the police academy in Yuba City, Richardson said. He joined the Merced County sheriff’s office as a reserve officer and worked as an animal control officer in Turlock before being hired by the Newman force in 2011.

English was Singh’s third language and he had a thick accent but took speech classes to improve his communication, the chief said.

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

“Please help us find this coward,” Richardson said of Singh’s killer. “We need closure, his family needs closure.”

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