"This guy had a heart of gold, he treated his brothers and sisters in law enforcement as if they were just brothers and sisters. He thought of them before he thought of himself. He thought of the broader community before he thought of himself," said Adrian Garcia, Harris County police commissioner.
The man who made history as the first Sikh to become a deputy at a Houston-area sheriff's department was fatally shot in the head from behind Friday, authorities said, according to CNN. Sandeep Dhaliwal, who was portrayed as a trailblazer who paved the way for other Sikhs to join the department, was conducting a traffic stop when he was shot, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference. "He wore the turban, he represented his community with integrity, respect, and pride and he was respected by all," Gonzalez said.
Dhaliwal was headed back to his patrol car during the traffic stop when a man got out of the vehicle with a pistol, says Gonzalez. "In a cold-blooded manner, ambush-style, (he) shot Deputy Dhaliwal from behind," Gonzalez said. Robert Solis, 47, has been charged with capital murder in connection with Dhaliwal's murder. A weapon that the deputies believe was used to kill Dhaliwal was also recovered, according to Gonzalez.
RIP: Officer Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, the 1st Sikh in Texas to wear his Turban while on duty shot in cold blood in northwest Harris County & killed in the line of duty. Loss of a wonderful father, husband, son, brother, friend, & last but not least, the First Sikh Officer in Texas pic.twitter.com/6WNbx7YdVH— Instagram: @HarjinderKukreja (@SinghLions) September 28, 2019
"It's the worst day, the worst nightmare for any police executive," Gonzalez said. "This guy had a heart of gold, he treated his brothers and sisters in law enforcement as if they were just brothers and sisters. He thought of them before he thought of himself. He thought of the broader community before he thought of himself," said Adrian Garcia, Harris County police commissioner.
Sandeep Dhaliwal, who made headlines after gaining a religious exemption to wear a turban as part of his police uniform, was shot and killed on Friday near Houston in what officials described as an ambush during a traffic stop https://t.co/v4jr1MRCld— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 28, 2019
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner tweeted a statement Friday night that read: Praying and standing with the family and #SikhCommunity of Harris County Sheriff Deputy @sandeepdhaliwa who was fatally shot today. He represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good. Evil you do not win here. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement Friday saying "this tragic loss is a grave reminder of the risks that our law enforcement officers face every single day."
Praying and standing with the family and #SikhCommunity of Harris County Sheriff Depty @sandeepdhaliwa who was fatally shot today. He represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good. Evil you do not win here. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) September 27, 2019
"I thank the officers who bravely responded to apprehend the suspect, and I assure you that the state of Texas is committed to bringing this killer to justice," Abbott said. Dashcam footage of the shooting was recovered, which showed Dhaliwal speaking with the driver with "no combat, no arguing," according to Maj. Mike Lee, who works with the sheriff's office.
Four years ago, Sandeep Dhaliwal became the first person in Texas to wear a turban while serving on the force.— Muhammad Lila (@MuhammadLila) September 27, 2019
He fought for the right, and he won.
Today, he was shot dead during a routine traffic stop.
Take a moment to honor him.
📸 @HCSOTexas) pic.twitter.com/6bvmmTMntc
Dhaliwal shut the driver's door, as the driver remained in the vehicle, Lee said. As Dhaliwal turned to walk back to his patrol car, the driver's side door opened and a man could be seen exiting the vehicle "almost immediately running with a gun already out," Lee said. The dashcam captured the fatal moment Dhaliwal was shot from behind. He was shot in the back of the head, Lee added.
Horrific news. Lt. Sandeep Dhaliwal, the first ever Sikh officer to wear a turban in Texas was shot and killed in the line of duty today.— Simran Jeet Singh (@SikhProf) September 27, 2019
A good man devoted to serving others. Please offer your love and prayers for his family. pic.twitter.com/lVjTQVpEHu
The shooter returned to his vehicle and drove away, Lee said. A nearby resident saw the shooting and rushed to help the deputy, Lee said while mentioning that the dashcam did manage to capture a picture of the shooter. The shooter, described as a Hispanic male, was found at a business less than a mile away from where the shooting took place, Lee said. A woman, who deputies said was also in the vehicle, was also taken into custody, Lee added.
A Harris County resident sent us a video of fallen Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) September 28, 2019
“He laughed and joked with all of us, and left a bright impression on my son who is deaf,” she said.
Deputy Dhaliwal is an incredible loss not only to our HCSO family but to the entire community. pic.twitter.com/EbsdFeeWXO
Dhaliwal's body was taken to the medical examiner's office, and deputies lined the walkway from the van to the medical examiner's office in a show of respect and solidarity. The trailblazer was a 10-year veteran who is survived by his wife and three children. Dhaliwal's the reason why there are other Sikh deputies now. "There are simply no words to adequately express our heartbreak, our sadness at this time," Gonzalez said.
Sandeep Dhaliwal, the first Sikh to become deputy in Houston, TX was fatally shot from behind yesterday— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) September 28, 2019
He was a HERO!
With the help of his community, he filled an 18 wheeler truck with supplies worth over a million dollars for those affected by Hurricane Harvey
KNOW HIS NAME! pic.twitter.com/oTN4b0qEPg
HEARTBREAKING: Deputies pay their respects to comrade Sandeep Dhaliwal. 💔 The father and husband rallied so much support after Harvey, he needed an 18 wheeler to deliver supplies. When Maria hit Puerto Rico, he went. He was THAT guy. https://t.co/wc837fWBdF pic.twitter.com/c7jiU6rcpf— Erica Simon (@EricaOnABC13) September 28, 2019