Suspect in Newman officer’s slaying was wanted man for nearly 4 years

Suspect in Newman officer’s slaying was wanted man for nearly 4 years

News Staff

The suspect accused of shooting and killing a Newman police officer had been a wanted man for almost four years prior to the shooting.

An arrest warrant for Gustavo Perez Arriaga, who has also gone by the name of Paulo Virgen Mendoza, was issued in January 2015, according to court records.

Court records obtained by KCRA 3 show Arriaga, was first arrested for a felony DUI with an injury to a man on Aug. 14, 2011. Arriaga was arrested again on June 5, 2014, on suspicion of a second misdemeanor DUI.

After that second arrest, court records show Arriaga agreed to a plea deal in the first case. He pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, a first offense, and prosecutors agreed to drop the felony charges.

In December 2014, Arriaga was sentenced to five days in the Madera County Department of Corrections and three years’ probation for the first DUI. He was also ordered to enroll in a DUI program.

Arriaga was scheduled to appear in court in January 2015 to be arraigned for his second DUI case, but he never showed up, court records show. A warrant was then issued for his arrest, making him a wanted man.

Almost four years later, prosecutors said Newman police Cpl. Ronil Singh pulled Arriaga over on Dec. 26 for a DUI stop. Arriaga, who now goes by the name Paulo Mendoza, opened fire and killed Singh, the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Office said.

After the shooting, detectives said Arriaga drove off, leading officers on a days-long manhunt before his arrest in the Bakersfield area.

During his arraignment last week, Arriaga was charged with murder. However, his case has been put on hold pending a mental health evaluation after his defense attorney questioned Arriaga’s mental competency.

Paulo Virgen Mendoza, aka Gustavo Perez Arriaga, in court on Jan. 2, 2019.

Arriaga was “advised of immigration consequences” during the first sentencing, which is a standard part of sentencing procedures, according to court records. Court records do not indicate whether his immigration status was ever brought up in court.

Then-Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said last month Arriaga is a native of Mexico and came into the country illegally.

U.S. immigration authorities said they had no contact with Arriaga before Singh’s shooting death. ICE said the agency placed its first immigration detainer on Arriaga after the shooting.