Tens of thousands of people across Texas on Sunday honoured a widely respected Sikh sheriff’s deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal who was murdered on duty in a killing that triggered an outpouring of public grief.
At the Sikh National Center in Houston, the gurdwara Dhaliwal attended, preparations are underway for the funeral.
With siren blaring @HCSOTexas just escorted the family of Dep. Sandeep Dhaliwal to his memorial set up at the location he was shot and killed while on duty last week. @KPRC2 pic.twitter.com/o7ib2Fb2UA— Taisha Walker (@KPRC2Taisha) September 30, 2019
Thousands of people are expected to gather at the Berry Center in Houston on Wednesday to honour the fallen deputy's life and legacy in a ceremony open to the public.
Beginning Monday at 3 p.m. (4 p.m. ET), the Sikh National Center will hold an Akhand Path, a non-stop front-to-back reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh holy book. The Akhand Path will conclude 48 hours later, on Wednesday.
Memorial for Sikh police officer Sandeep Dhaliwal killed in line of duty in Texas in same stadium where “HowdyModi” was held. It’s a packed stadium. pic.twitter.com/wXEYQGLdJo— K. C. Singh (@ambkcsingh) September 30, 2019
Dhaliwal will be cremated at a local funeral home later Wednesday afternoon, according to Sikh tradition. The cremation service will be for family and members of the sheriff's office, and final prayers will be said afterward at the Sikh National Center.
Dhaliwal, 42, was the county's first Sikh Deputy when he joined the force 10 years ago, and became a national figure after convincing the Department to allow him to wear religious attire and grow a beard while on patrol, reports The Houston Chronicle newspaper.
"He wore the turban, he represented his community with integrity, respect and pride and he was respected by all," Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a press conference on Friday night.
"It's the worst day, the worst nightmare for any police executive," he added.
According to Harris County Sheriff's Office Maj. Mike Lee, Dhaliwal pulled over a vehicle around 12.45 p.m. on Friday in the 14800 block of Willancy Court in the Cypress area.
Lee said the dashcam video showed that Dhaliwal and the suspect, Robert Solis, 47, still in his car, having a conversation with no sign of confrontation.
A few seconds after Dhaliwal returned to his squad car, the suspect ran up and shot him in the head multiple times, Lee said.
Sir, @ambkcsingh , Habitants Of Houston loves their hero #SandeepSinghDhaliwal and they observed a Moment of Silence in honor of Harris County Sheriff's Office deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, before the start of an #NFL football game at NRG Stadium on Sunday. https://t.co/4QXBe3ZIer pic.twitter.com/wtHojrJVeN— Ravinder Singh Robin ਰਵਿੰਦਰ ਸਿੰਘ راویندرسنگھ روبن (@rsrobin1) September 30, 2019
Dhaliwal was airlifted to the hospital, where he died.
Solis was charged late Friday with capital murder in the case, The Houston Chronicle reported.
A woman who was outside gardening heard the shot and saw Solis run to a getaway car.
RIP Deputy Sheriff Sandeep Dhaliwal— Charles V Payne (@cvpayne) September 28, 2019
There is no peace without peace officers
"A Texas deputy who made history is shot dead in an ambush during a traffic stop"https://t.co/BkBfPgKv1W
Lee said the suspect then went to a store nearby. After a brief search, authorities detained Solis, who has a criminal record that includes convictions for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated kidnapping and driving while intoxicated.
Dhaliwal, a father of three young children, began his career in law enforcement out of a desire to serve after then-Sheriff Adrian Garcia reached out to strengthen the department's relationship with the Sikh community after deputies botched a domestic violence call at a Sikh family's home.
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
He was also very active at his Gurudwara, and his house of worship held a special ceremony after he became a Deputy.
"He was very, very, very important," community member Sampuran Singh said. "He was always willing to do what the community needed him to do."
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in a tweet on Friday said that Dhaliwal "represented the diversity and inclusiveness of our community and everything that is good", while Texas Governor Greg Abbott called the Deputy's death a "tragic loss".
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