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Vigil held in Bakersfield for slain Houston-area deputy

Posted at 11:23 PM, Sep 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-01 02:23:32-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A vigil was held in downtown Bakersfield on Monday for Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in the Houston area last week.

Dhaliwal wasn't only beloved in Houston, he also helped a group of Bakersfield veterans as they responded to help with relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

"He showed up and he's like 'hey brother what do you guys need?' and he just had all his buddies there and he like 'alright just start unloading, here's what they need.' from there he's like 'just let us know, it's a phone call away, whatever's needed in this area, just please let me know," said Chris Quinones, an Army veteran who responded to the hurricane.

Quinones was one of four local vets who decided to join together and drive a truck full of supplies to the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in 2017. That's where he met Dhaliwal.

"I didn't see no negative thing about him whatsoever and given him being a sheriff and having his turban, which he actually fought his rights for, he was being a trailblazer and he just wanted to be accepted and loved and that was his ultimate thing," Quinones said.

Trailblazer was how many at Monday night's vigil in downtown Bakersfield described Dhaliwal. He was the first Sikh in Texas to wear his turban while on duty.

"Sometimes people think when they see a turban after September 11th, and they compare us with bad people, but in fact, we've been fighting with those people for centuries," said Nazar Singh Kooner, a member of the Bakersfield Sikh community.

Kooner says Dhaliwal was very brave.

"Everybody respected him. This was not the time for him to leave. We had a lot of hopes for him," he said.

Dhaliwal was gunned down during a traffic stop on Friday. On Monday a judge denied bond for 47-year-old Robert Solis, the man arrested and accused of the crime. The judge predicted Solis would get the death penalty.

Quinones fondly recalled the brief time they spent together.

"At one point he was just like 'hey if you guys don't mind regardless of what your beliefs are, can you join us all in prayer for unity,' and so we did. After that he goes 'thank you guys for coming out here' and we're like 'no thank you for everything that you're doing and helping everyone out,'" he said.

Quinones says Dhaliwal had just got back from Puerto Rico where he was helping out with their hurricane relief. A vigil was also held in Houston on Monday honoring the deputy.