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Texas honours murdered Sikh sheriff's deputy

America's first Sikh cop was shot dead in Houston. Photograph:( IANS )

AFP Washington, United States Sep 30, 2019, 09.17 AM (IST)

Tens of thousands of people across Texas on Sunday honoured a widely respected Sikh sheriff's deputy who was murdered on duty in a killing that triggered an outpouring of public grief.

Sandeep Dhaliwal, one of the first sheriff's deputies in the United States to wear a traditional Sikh turban on duty, was shot from behind Friday while conducting a traffic stop near Houston.

A moment of silence was held at the Houston Texans football game against the Carolina Panthers, while mourners gathered outside churches across Harris County, where he served.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told reporters that Dhaliwal, 41, was returning to his patrol car when a man shot him multiple times with a pistol.

Gonzalez paid tribute to Dhaliwal, a father of three, saying that "he wore the turban, he represented his community with integrity, respect and pride."

Dhaliwal had been in law enforcement for 10 years after selling his lucrative trucking business to take up a job that he hoped would improve community relations for Sikhs, who often face prejudice, the Washington Post reported.

"He was just a gem of a person. He was a beautiful soul," said Simran Jeet Singh, a senior religion fellow at the New York-based Sikh Coalition, according to the USA Today newspaper.

"Everyone who knew him admired him greatly", he said.

A suspect has been arrested for the murder.

The sheriff's office will hold a candlelight vigil for Dhaliwal on Monday evening, two days before his funeral.