‘Build the Wall!’ Trump tweets about immigration status of California officer’s alleged murderer

‘This suspect is in this country illegally’, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson

Investigators believe the man suspected of killing Newman Police Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh is still in Stanislaus County, Sheriff Adam Christianson said in a news conference Thursday morning.
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Investigators believe the man suspected of killing Newman Police Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh is still in Stanislaus County, Sheriff Adam Christianson said in a news conference Thursday morning.

President Donald Trump on Thursday argued that the man accused of killing a Stanislaus County police officer was further proof Congress needed to build his border wall.

”There is right now a full scale manhunt going on in California for an illegal immigrant accused of shooting and killing a police officer during a traffic stop,” Trump said in a tweet just after 1 p.m. “Time to get tough on Border Security. Build the Wall!”

Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said Thursday that the suspect accused of killing Newman Police Cpl. Ronil “Ron” Singh Wednesday during a traffic stop had entered the country illegally.

Investigators have released surveillance footage of the suspect, and investigators have identified him, but they did not release his name or provide other details of his immigration status.

“We will find him, we will arrest him and we will bring him to justice,” Christianson said at a news conference Thursday.

Singh, 33, was shot and killed at 1 a.m. Wednesday after pulling over a suspected drunken driver at Merced Street and Eucalyptus Avenue in the city of Newman, a small town about an hour and 40 minutes south of Sacramento in the center of California’s San Joaquin Valley.

It’s the second time in recent months Trump has tweeted about an illegal immigrant being accused of killing a cop in California.

Just before the midterm elections, Trump posted a tweet Oct. 31, blaming Democrats for “letting in” Luis Bracamontes, the man who killed two law enforcement officers in 2014 in the Sacramento area.

Bracamontes is on California’s death row after being sentenced in April for killing Sacramento County Sheriff’s Deputy Danny Oliver and Placer County Sheriff’s Detective Michael Davis Jr. in a daylong crime spree that began at a Motel 6 on Arden Way and ended in Auburn.

Trump’s tweet features video of Bracamontes spewing profanities while on trial in Sacramento County Superior Court, a frequent occurrence in the years of court hearings he faced.

But the president’s claim in that tweet that “Democrats let him into our country” is not entirely accurate, and neither is the claim that “Democrats let him stay,” according to a Sacramento Bee analysis of the claims in the days after Trump’s tweet.

Bracamontes, who grew up in Sinaloa, Mexico, entered the country illegally, crossing into Arizona. The Maricopa County (Ariz.) Sheriff’s Office has told The Sacramento Bee previously that he was first arrested in Phoenix in 1996. Prosecutors in Phoenix say he was arrested Sept. 25, 1996, on deportable drug offenses related to marijuana possession and sentenced to four months in jail starting in January 1997.

This is raw video from the scene where a Newman police officer was shot and killed on Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018.

Bracamontes served his time in then-Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s tent-city jail, then was handed over to federal immigration agents and deported on June 3, 1997, during Clinton’s second term.

He apparently did not stay in Mexico long. Records in Arizona show he was arrested on drug charges again in Phoenix in 1998, then released “for reasons unknown” by Arpaio’s office. Arpaio is a Republican and a Trump ally.

Bracamontes was next arrested May 4, 2001, on marijuana charges in Maricopa County, and deported three days later. Republican George W. Bush was president at the time, and was president when Bracamontes slipped back into the United States a short time later.

The date of his re-entry is not clear, but records show Bracamontes was married in Maricopa County on Feb. 28, 2002, when Bush was president.

By then, Bracamontes had been living near Salt Lake City where he remained until 2014, when he and his wife embarked upon a methamphetamine-fueled trip that ended with their arrests in Placer County after the deputies were killed.

Trump has long argued that criminals slipping into America is a key reason to build a wall across the border with Mexico. Last week, Trump refused to sign a bipartisan budget bill that would have kept the government from falling into a partial shutdown. Senate Democrats have refused to budge on Trump’s demands for a $5 billion to pay for the wall.

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Ryan Sabalow covers environment, general news and enterprise and investigative stories for McClatchy’s Western newspapers. Before joining The Bee in 2015, he was a reporter at The Auburn Journal, The Redding Record Searchlight and The Indianapolis Star.