Houston: Tributes poured in for Sandeep Dhaliwal, the first Sikh Deputy in Texas’s Harris County who was shot dead multiple times in the head from behind while on duty.
Dhaliwal, 42, was shot dead by the suspect, Robert Solis, 47, on Friday afternoon during a traffic stop in the county’s Cypress area. Solis is currently under arrest and was charged with capital murder.
Dhaliwal was the county’s first Sikh Deputy when he joined the force 10 years ago, and became a national figure after convincing the Harris County Sherrif’s Department to allow him to wear a turban and grow a beard while on patrol.
A day after his death, Department officers shared photographs and videos of a “community-led” candlelight vigil held on Saturday to honour the Deputy, the BBC reported.
Many residents also shared tributes to him on social media.
A video from one local resident showed Dhaliwal laughing as he allowed his son to handcuff him and then set him free.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Dhaliwal was a “bold and groundbreaking law enforcement officer in the eyes of our county, our state, our nation, and around the world, because he sought and received permission to patrol while wearing the outward signs of his Sikh faith, including a turban and beard”.
“He was a walking lesson in tolerance and understanding,” Turner added.
The Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SADEF) called Dhaliwal a “trailblazer for the Sikh community”
The motive behind Dhaliwal’s murder is yet to be determined.
A funeral is set to take place on Wednesday.
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, according to The Houston Chronicle.
He was also very active at his Gurudwara, and his house of worship held a special ceremony after he became a Deputy.