The man suspected of fatally ambushing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy is now in jail without bail, awaiting potential criminal charges. However, his family insists that he is not a “coward,” as the sheriff has called him, but instead mentally ill and not of sound mind.
The suspect, Kevin Cataneo Salazar, 29, was apprehended on Monday morning at his family’s residence in Palmdale after a lengthy standoff and manhunt that began following the shooting of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer near the Palmdale station on Saturday night. Clinkunbroomer, a 30-year-old third-generation deputy who had recently become engaged, was shot while seated in his patrol car at a traffic light near the station. Video footage shows a dark-colored sedan pulling up behind the patrol SUV, pausing next to the driver’s side, and then driving away. Although a good Samaritan stopped to help, Deputy Clinkunbroomer was taken to Antelope Valley Medical Center in critical condition and later died.
Early Monday morning, armed sheriff’s deputies descended on Salazar’s home based on tips from the public. The standoff ended when Special Enforcement Bureau personnel used chemical agents to flush him out. Sheriff Robert Luna reported that “numerous firearms” were recovered at the scene, and a dark-colored sedan, believed to be connected to the shooting, was also seized. Sheriff Luna stated, “Thirty-six hours after the murder of our deputy, the men and women of our department arrested him early this morning.”
Salazar is currently being held without bail at the Twin Towers jail in downtown Los Angeles. A court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday in Lancaster, pending a decision on charges by the District Attorney’s Office. Despite Sheriff Luna’s characterization of Salazar as a “coward,” Salazar’s mother and sister claim that he suffers from mental illness. Salazar’s sister, Jessica, stated in a news conference, “My brother, he’s being called a coward… He wasn’t in his right state of mind. He has schizophrenia… He has paranoia. He heard voices.” Salazar’s mother echoed these sentiments, saying that her son, who had stopped taking his medication, was failed by the system when the family sought help from sheriff’s deputies.
As the investigation continues, it remains unclear how Salazar’s mental state will affect any potential criminal case against him. Nevertheless, Sheriff Luna emphasized that regardless of mental health factors, the murder of a law enforcement officer should be treated with the utmost seriousness.
It is still unknown what motivated the shooting. Sheriff Luna appealed to the public for any additional information they may have about the incident. He acknowledged that there may be further details yet to be discovered. He also stressed the importance of public aid in prosecuting Salazar fully.
Anyone with information related to the shooting is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau or Crime Stoppers. In response to the killing, rewards totaling $250,000 have been offered by various agencies.
Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer’s family released a statement expressing their grief and describing him as a dedicated deputy who took pride in serving the community. They requested privacy during their time of mourning.
The murder of Deputy Clinkunbroomer is the most recent tragedy involving a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy. Sgt. Steve Owen was shot and killed in 2016, Deputy Alejandro Martinez died in 2022 as a result of a vehicle collision, and Deputy Steve Belanger passed away in 2018 from injuries sustained in a shooting incident in 1994.
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