Neighbor recalls authorities’ difficulty finding dying Newman corporal in darkness

Authorities responding to the shooting of Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh about 1 a.m. Wednesday had difficulty locating the dying 33-year-old and for a while thought he may have been taken by the gunman, said a Merced Street resident who came outside that morning to see if he could help.

Zackary Aaberg’s account matches dispatch recordings that show authorities who responded to the scene were being told Singh might have been kidnapped. “Sounds like the responsible (the suspect) has 207’d the officer,” a deputy is heard saying on dispatch radio chatter streamed on Broadcastify. The California Penal Code section for kidnapping is 207.

Aaberg heard about seven shots and went out front to help Singh. The suspect’s vehicle was gone, and he could not see the corporal. Other residents were out, too, he said. In the darkness, “no one could find him, and when his partner pulled up, she was like, ‘Hey, where is he?’”

Someone said the shooter may have taken Singh in his truck. The corporal eventually was found along the side of the street, Aaberg said. “It was horrible to watch” the desperate search for Singh, he said.

Sheriff Adam Christianson confirmed that Singh was found some distance away from his patrol vehicle. “How he got to the point at which he fell, we don’t know yet,” he said Thursday afternoon. He shared no estimate of the time between the shooting and Singh being located.

“We will ultimately, I’m sure, determine why he was found where he was found away from his vehicle.”

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Deke has been an editor and reporter with The Modesto Bee since 1995. He currently does breaking-news, education and human-interest reporting. A Beyer High grad, he studied geology and journalism at UC Davis and CSU Sacramento.