Kevin Cataneo Salazar was identified as the suspect accused in the ambush-style murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer, the Los Angeles County sheriff said in a news conference.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said in a September 18, 2023, press conference that the suspect was arrested early that morning, within 36 hours after the murder.
Ryan Clinkunbroomer was a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy who was shot and killed in an ambush while sitting in his squad car at a red light.
“I am very proud of the work our men and women have done,” Luna said. He added that the suspect is 29 years old and from Palmdale. Luna said authorities believe Salazar is the only suspect.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Community Members Tipped the Sheriff’s Department About the Suspect’s Identity, the Sheriff Said
After a 4 p.m. a press conference on September 17, 2023, community members came forward with information, which led homicide detectives to identify the suspect and vehicle used in the murder, Luna said.
A warrant was served in the suspect’s residence located in the City of Palmdale, Luna said. Deputies surrounded the residence and “called out all of the occupants of that residence,” he said.
The suspect barricaded himself for several hours and refused to come out, Luna said, although some of his family members did come out. Hostage negotiators tried to get the suspect out eventually police deployed chemical agents, and the suspect surrendered, he said.
“I want to let to our community know Deputy Clinkunbroomer left his family tonight to serve our community. He laid everything on the line to serve us,” Luna wrote on X on the evening of September 16, 2023. “He wore a uniform just like other @LASDHQ deputies wear, driving in a police car, and he was senselessly murdered tonight.”
2. Sheriff Luna Called Kevin Salazar a ‘Coward’ & Said the Motive Remains Unclear
In an initial news conference, Luna said investigators believe it was a “targeted act.” Investigators don’t yet know whether the specific deputy was targeted or whether he was targeted because he represented law enforcement, said Luna, who added that everything is “on the table.”
In the second news conference, Luna said it was not clear why Salazar shot and killed Clinkunbroomer, calling the suspect a “coward.”
The 30-year-old deputy was just engaged four days ago, said Luna, and he was from a third-generation law enforcement family.
At 6 p.m., the uniformed deputy was on duty, working in a patrol car from the Palmdale Sheriff’s station, the sheriff said. He said a good Samaritan found the deputy unconscious in his vehicle near the intersection and contacted authorities. The deputy was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to Luna.
3. The Ambush Was Captured on Video That Shows the Vehicle Used by Kevin Salazar Driving Alongside the Deputy’s Cruiser, Authorities Say
Surveillance video from the Sheriff’s station shows the moment that a vehicle driven by the suspect pulled next to Clinkunbroomer’s sheriff’s cruiser as it was stopped at a red light.
The vehicle then pulled away, and Clinkunbroomer’s car rolled forward a bit and then stopped. The suspect drove off, the video shows.
Luna said the deputy had just left the station and was “driving down the street,” saying the shooting occurred “for no apparent reason. I am assuming at this point because he was in uniform. That to me is sickening.”
4. Ryan Clinkunbroomer’s Family Said That the Deputy Was a ‘Dedicated, Hard-Working Deputy Sheriff’
Luna read a statement from the Clinkunbroomer family. “Our son Ryan was a dedicated, hard-working deputy sheriff,” it said. ‘He was proud to work alongside his partners that he considers his brothers and sisters.”
Ryan made the “ultimate sacrifice,” they said. He was “recently engaged to the love of his life” and was his parents’ first-born son.
Clinkunbroomer’s father and grandfather served on the Sheriff’s Department, Luna said, adding that the deputy “embodied the values of bravery, selflessness, and an absolute commitment to justice.”
On Facebook, Clinkunbroomer shared photos with family and friends, and a Sheriff’s Department badge with a black line through it.
At first, the Los Angeles County Sheriff tweeted, “At approximately 6pm an LASD Palmdale Deputy was found in medical distress in front of Palmdale Sheriff Station. Deputy has been transported to a local hospital. More information to follow.”
In an updated post, the department wrote, “Deputy was shot in his patrol car. Transported to a local hospital, and is in critical condition.” He was driving in his car while on duty, and it “appears he was fired upon,” said Luna.
The deputy died at the hospital, according to Luna.
5. Kevin Salazar Was Diagnosed With Paranoid Schizophrenia, His Mother Told Reporters
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suspect’s mother said he was “diagnosed with schizophrenia, heard voices and twice tried suicide.”
The mother said he was home after the shooting but did not seem upset.
“My son is mentally ill, and if he did something, he wasn’t in his full mental capacity,” she told the Times.
“They’re only saying that he was the one that shot the deputy, but nobody is saying he has a record for needing mental help,” she said, telling the Times he was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who heard voices in his head and told his parents and siblings that “cars or people were following him in the streets.”
According to Luna, the deputy was 30-years-old. He served the community “with absolute distinction.” He transferred to Palmdale station in 2018, and he was a field training officer, said Luna.
He added that usually the “best of the best” become field training officers.
“He didn’t deserve this,” said Luna.
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