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Suspected illegal immigrant accused of killing California officer arrested

[LOS ANGELES] A suspected illegal immigrant accused of shooting to death a California police officer was arrested on Friday after a two-day manhunt that President Donald Trump cited in his push for building a wall on the border with Mexico, officials said.

Gustavo Arriaga, 33, was arrested in Bakersfield, a city around 300km south of Newman where the police officer was shot early on Wednesday, Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said at a news conference.

The officer in Newman, a small Northern California town, was shot and killed after pulling over the suspect on suspicion of driving under the influence, authorities said.

The suspect was an illegal immigrant from Mexico who has claimed to be involved with a criminal gang called the SureƱos, Mr Christianson said.

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Arriaga was trying to reach Mexico, Mr Christianson said.

It was not immediately clear if Arriaga had an attorney.

Mr Christianson said the case highlighted the dangers of a California law passed in 2017 that placed limits on how closely law enforcement can cooperate with federal immigration agents to turn over inmates for deportation.

Arriaga had prior arrests for driving under the influence and could have been subject to deportation, Mr Christianson said.

"Why are we providing sanctuary for criminals, gang members?" Mr Christianson said at the news conference. "It's a conversation we need to have."

Lawmakers who supported the California state law have said that undocumented immigrants are more likely to report crimes and cooperate with law enforcement if they do not fear deportation for themselves or others.

Mr Trump tweeted about the shooting on Thursday, several days after a shutdown of the federal government, which was triggered by his US$5 billion demand, largely opposed by Democrats and some lawmakers in Mr Trump's own Republican party, for the wall he wants to build.

The officer, identified as 33-year-old Ronil Singh, was a native of Fiji who immigrated to the United States to become a police officer and rose to the rank of corporal, authorities said.

Several people were also arrested on suspicion of helping Arriaga evade law enforcement and lying to detectives about him, authorities said.

REUTERS