TRIBUTES have flooded in for a hero Sikh sheriff’s deputy who was shot dead from behind during a traffic stop in Texas on Friday.
Sandeep Dhaliwal – the first Sikh sheriff’s deputy in Texas’ Harris County – was gunned down in a “senseless” killing that has left the state in shock.
Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, was shot dead from behind during a traffic stop in Texas on Friday[/caption]
Tributes have flooded in for the hero cop who was cherished by the community he served[/caption]
A 47-year-old man has been arrested and charged with murder.
The motive is not known – although a possible hate crime is suspected.
Heartbroken friends said Dhaliwal, 42, was an example of how love-inspired service can tear down walls of distrust and misunderstanding.
Simran Jeet Singh, a senior religion fellow at the New York-based Sikh Coalition, said: “He was just a gem of a person.
“He was a beautiful soul. Everyone who knew him admired him greatly.”
FATHER OF THREE
Dad-of-three Dhaliwal joined Harris County Sheriff’s Office – an area including the US’s fourth largest city of Houston – ten years ago.
He was soon commended for his outstanding service – and four years ago he won an accommodation to wear his turban and a beard on duty.
Mr Singh added: “It’s such a powerful message to send to the community that a man in a turban and beard is just as much American as you.”
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez described Dhaliwal as a “trailblazer”.
Gonzalez added: “He wore a turban, he represented his community with integrity, respect and pride.”
TRIBUTES ACROSS TEXAS
Candlelit vigils and community prayers were held over the weekend – while silences were observed at sports games across Texas.
Dhaliwal was a member of the Sikh National Center in Houston, said its chair Hardam Azad.
Azad said Dhaliwal often would speak with young people at the centre, showing his sheriff’s badge.
A heartbreaking video of Dhaliwal posted online showed him laughing as he allowed a boy to handcuff him.
He then showed the boy how to unlock the handcuffs with the key – before giving him a high-five and a hug.
A heartbreaking video showing Dhaliwal giving a young admirer a high five has gone viral online following his tragic death[/caption]
Sandeep Dhaliwal, centre. He was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on Friday[/caption]
A mourner is comforted by a police officer outside Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, where Dhaliwal was pronounced dead[/caption]
Dhaliwal was given a guard of honour as his body was taken from hospital on Friday[/caption]
There are more than 500,000 Sikhs in the US.
Male followers often cover their heads with turbans, which are considered sacred, and refrain from shaving their beards.
Some were targets of anti-Islam violence following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even though Sikhism is unrelated to Islam.
Azad said: “Ever since 9/11 happened, a lot of hate crimes have occurred against the Sikhs.”
“The way to counter that was exactly the kind of service Sandeep Dhaliwal provided to the larger community.
“His passion for public service was obvious to us all,” Azad added.
“There are some people who live angry lives. He was anything but angry.”
DAD WAS COP
Dhaliwal followed his father’s footsteps by joining the police – after his dad served in his native India.
When Hurricane Harvey ravaged Houston, Dhaliwal joined others in the Sikh community to help feed those left homeless.
Then when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, he travelled there to help.
Friend Manpreet Kaur Singh said: “There are just those people who come out passionate in the world, and you don’t know what drives them.
“He wanted to make sure he helped people. I had no idea what made him sacrifice his time.”
Dhaliwal was shot in the back of the head while making a traffic stop at a residential cul-de-sac near Houston.
He stopped a car with two people inside when one got out and approached him from behind – before opening fire.
Sheriff Gonzalez, who said dashcam footage showed the horrific shooting, said the killer “basically just shot him in a very ruthless, cold-blooded way.”
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Robert Solis, 47, of Houston, was charged on Friday night with capital murder and is being held without bond in the Harris County Jail.
Dhaliwal is survived by a wife and three children, as well as his father and sisters. His funeral will take place in Houston on Wednesday.
Sherrif Gonzalez added: “He was a hero.
“There are no words to speak to how heartbroken we are, how devastated.”
Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal with then-sheriff Adrian Garcia at a ceremony to celebrate his special accommodation to wear his turban on duty[/caption]
Harris County Sheriffs deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal at a vigil for deputy Darren Goforth, who was shot and killed in 2015[/caption]
Robert Solis, 47, of Houston has been charged with capital murder over the death of Deputy Dhaliwal[/caption]
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