New Delhi: Indian-American Sikh police officer Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal died while on duty after being shot multiple times in a 'ruthless, cold-blooded way' during a traffic stop in the US state of Texas, a senior official said on Saturday.
Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, Sikh Harris County Sheriff's deputy, was shot at on Friday while conducting a traffic stop, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said. He was in his early 40s. According to Gonzalez, Dhaliwal stopped a vehicle with a man and a woman inside and one of them stepped out and shot him twice. Dhaliwal was immediately taken to Memorial Hermann hospital in serious condition, where he later died. He is survived by a wife and three children.
The officials said that after the attack, the shooter was seen running to a nearby shopping center.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar expressed deep grief over the killing of Dhaliwal.
Extending condolence to the family of the officer, Jaishankar tweeted, "Deeply grieved to learn of the shooting of Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, a Sikh Indian-American officer in Houston. We have just visited that city. My condolences to his family."
In 2015, Dhaliwal made history when the police department allowed him to keep his beard and wear a dastar (turban) while on patrol - a requirement of the Sikh religion. He became the first Sikh to be allowed to wear a turban and articles of the Sikh faith, while on duty. With the help of the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Dhaliwal helped change the department's policy and make it more inclusive.
Sikhs of America organisation called the death of Dhaliwal a 'great loss to the Sikh community', adding that he will inspire more youth from the community to join the law enforcement agencies in the United States.
In a telephonic interview to news agency ANI, Jesse Singh, chairman of Sikhs of America also condoled the demise of Dhaliwal and called him a "true American Hero". "It is a great loss to the Sikh community, Sandeep fought for the Sikh Identity and in his death, he will inspire more Sikh youth to join the Law enforcement agencies in the USA and carry his dream forward," he said.
"Deputy Dhaliwal was known to everybody as someone with a giving heart," Dr Pritpal Singh, who had known Dhaliwal for some years now, told ANI.
"Post a hurricane and floods in 2017 when the community needed the most help, he went out of his way to bring relief to the people in many neighborhoods." Dr Singh further added.