A suspect in the ambush murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was arrested early Monday morning, a day and a half after the deputy was fatally shot in the head.
At a Monday morning news conference, L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna said investigators are "extremely confident" they have the right person in custody. Even with that confidence, Luna urged anyone with information to contact authorities to help the investigation.
Luna identified the suspect as 29-year-old Palmdale resident Kevin Salazar. Salazar was being held at the Palmdale sheriff's station. Luna said investigators believe no other suspects were involved.
"Thirty-six hours after the murder of our deputy, the men and women of our department arrested him early this morning," Luna said.
Deputies surrounded the residence, a house, and called out everyone inside early Monday morning. Family members exited the house, Luna said, but the suspect barricaded himself inside for several hours. After trying to de-escalate the situation and negotiate, Special Enforcement deputies deployed chemical agents, and the suspect surrendered.
Investigators recovered numerous firearms and the vehicle of interest at the house, Luna said.
Salazar's mother and sister maintain that he has mental health issues. They say that he's been placed on 72-hour psychiatric holds twice in the past, and they've even called the sheriff's department on him themselves.
"My condolence to the family," said Salazar's sister, Yessica. "It was never a purpose thing. Just understand that it was my brother's mental condition at that moment. It wasn't a coward thing. It wasn't anger. It wasn't retaliation."
Community members' information led homicide investigators to identify the suspect and locate the suspect's vehicle, Luna said. No motive has been determined yet, Luna said. The investigation was ongoing.
The sheriff's department previously said Deputy Clinkunbroomer had just left the Palmdale station and was sitting at a red light at the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q at about 6 p.m. Saturday when he was found slumped over the wheel of his patrol vehicle by a good Samaritan.
"He was in uniform, sitting in a black-and-white vehicle marked 'L.A. County Sheriff's,' waiting for a red light," Sheriff Luna said. "Our deputy never even had a chance."
Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was rushed to Antelope Valley Medical Center, where he succumbed to his injuries. He was 30 years old.
"We're gonna catch the person who did this," the sheriff said during a press conference late Saturday evening. "Every resource that the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has to bear is going after you."
Investigators are analyzing a video that shows a sedan slowly pulling up behind an LASD vehicle at around the time that the shooting occurred before speeding away, Luna said.
During a press conference on Sunday, the sheriff said that the vehicle of interest is a dark gray 2006-2012 Toyota Corolla.
"We really need your help. We need to get this guy off the street," Luna said. "He ambushed and killed — murdered — one of our deputies. We need your help to get him off the street."
The sheriff further noted that Clinkunbroomer had spent about eight years with the department and transferred to the Palmdale station in July 2018. He had been acting as a field training officer for nearly two years, Luna said.
"Not just anybody becomes a field training officer," Luna said. "It's usually the best of the best."
Clinkunbroomer was a third generation LASD member, behind his father and grandfather.
"Service was in his blood," the sheriff said.
He had just become engaged to his girlfriend four days ago, the sheriff said. Clinkunbroomer leaves behind his fiancée, parents and grandparents.
"He didn't deserve this," an emotional Luna said. "This is so unfair. We're hurting because we lost somebody. It hurts bad. It sucks, just to put it bluntly. Our hearts absolutely go out to his family."
Sheriff Luna withheld specifics on the investigation as it remains in its early stages. He says that as new information comes to light, the public will be alerted.
During a procession early Sunday morning, hundreds of law enforcement officers escorted Clinkunbroomer's body to the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office.
A large area on the street outside of the station was surrounded by crime scene tape. An LASD vehicle was also taped off outside of the hospital where the deputy was taken after being discovered in the patrol car.
"Somebody saw something. Somebody knows something," Luna said. "There is a family here at this hospital grieving an unimaginable loss. We need your help."
Politicians, law enforcement officials and community leaders took to to social media tothroughout the day on Sunday, and flags at the state Capitol and Capitol Annex Swing Space were flown at half-staff.
During Sunday's press conference, County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she would seek $100,000 toward a reward to locate the suspect or suspect involved, which the Palmdale Mayor Laura Bettencourt said the city would match. Richard Pippin, the President of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, has also pledged an additional $50,000.
Clinkunbroomer was honored outside of the Palmdale sheriff's station Sunday evening at 7 p.m. with a candlelight vigil.
Anyone with information or who may have witnessed the incident is urged to contact homicide investigators at (323) 890-5500.
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