Texas Deputy Who Wore Sikh Turban And Beard On The Job Killed During Traffic Stop

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez called it a “cold-blood­ed mur­der, ambush-style.”

Image; Deputy Dhaliwal
Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, left, was killed Friday in Texas. He is seen here with for­mer Sheriff Adrian Garcia of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Harris County Sheriff’s Office

By Dennis Romero

A Texas deputy who drew nation­al head­lines when he was allowed to grow a beard and wear a tur­ban on the job to observe his Sikh faith was fatal­ly shot Friday in an “ambush-style” attack.

There was no evi­dence the shoot­ing of Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal dur­ing a 1 p.m. traf­fic stop, in an area where the city of Houston meets unin­cor­po­rat­ed Harris County, was a hate crime.

He was on a traf­fic stop,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said at a news con­fer­ence. “The pre­lim­i­nary infor­ma­tion that we have at this time is that a male sus­pect exit­ed the vehi­cle armed with a pis­tol and, in a cold-blood­ed mur­der, ambush-style shot Deputy Dhaliwal from behind.”

The sher­iff said Dhaliwal, 41, was tak­en by heli­copter to a hos­pi­tal but died.

The sher­if­f’s office tweet­ed Friday night that Robert Solis, 47, was arrest­ed on sus­pi­cion of cap­i­tal mur­der in con­nec­tion with the shoot­ing.

NBC News affil­i­ate KPRC in Houston report­ed that the sus­pect fled to a near­by shop­ping cen­ter then hid in a store before being tak­en into cus­tody. A woman in the vehi­cle was also detained, the sta­tion report­ed.

Image: Dhaliwal family
From right-left, Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal with fam­i­ly and Sheriff Adrian Garcia.Harris County Sheriff’s Office

There are sim­ply no words to ade­quate­ly express our heart­break, our sad­ness at this time,” Gonzalez said. “Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal a 10-year vet­er­an, was a hero, was a respect­ed mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty, and he was a trail­blaz­er.”

In 2015, Dhaliwal drew atten­tion when the Harris County depart­ment became the nation’s largest sher­if­f’s office to allow a Sikh to work the beat with his arti­cles of faith, includ­ing tur­ban and beard.

The deputy drew praise from Gonzalez for going to Puerto Rico after the island was dev­as­tat­ed by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

He also worked that year with human­i­tar­i­an relief non­prof­it United Sikhs to get truck­loads of sup­plies to first respon­ders after Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas and Louisiana coasts and caused flood­ing in Houston, accord­ing to the sher­if­f’s office.

Deputy Dhaliwal is known to every­body as some­body with a giv­ing heart,” Gonzalez said.

He is sur­vived by three chil­dren, a wife and a broth­er, the sher­iff said.