Alleged Killer of Sheriff's Deputy in Palmdale Awaits Court Appearance

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PALMDALE (CNS) - The man suspected in the fatal ambush shooting of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department deputy is being held without bail Tuesday at the downtown Twin Towers jail, and was tentatively set to appear in court Wednesday in Lancaster.

Kevin Cataneo Salazar, 29, was arrested Monday morning at his family's home in Palmdale following an hours-long standoff with law enforcement and a manhunt that began Saturday night, shortly after the slaying of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer near the department's Palmdale station.

Clinkunbroomer, a 30-year-old, third-generation deputy who was only recently engaged to be married, was shot around 6 p.m Saturday while sitting in his patrol car near the station at Sierra Highway and East Avenue Q. Sheriff's officials said a good Samaritan stopped to render aid after the shooting and that the wounded deputy was taken to Antelope Valley Medical Center in grave condition. He was pronounced dead that night.

Early Monday morning, sheriff's deputies in tactical gear and armored vehicles -- working off tips from the public -- descended on Salazar's family home, initiating a standoff that finally ended when Special Enforcement Bureau personnel flushed him out with "chemical agents," Sheriff Robert Luna said at a Monday news conference.

Luna said "numerous firearms" were also recovered following the arrest, and that deputies seized a dark-colored sedan that was believed to be linked to the killing.

"Thirty-six hours after the murder of our deputy, the men and women of our department arrested him early this morning," Luna said Monday.

Luna hailed the professionalism shown by deputies involved in the barricade situation and arrest, despite knowing the man may have killed one of their own.

"Those special enforcement deputies took the time to try to deescalate this and take this individual peacefully into custody, when they knew our deputy was not afforded the same opportunity," Luna said.

"He never gave our deputy a chance, but yet our men and women gave this individual a chance to take him into custody peacefully. That's the difference between professionals and individuals out there who are targeting not only community members but more importantly law enforcement out on the street."

Luna said a motive for the killing remains a mystery.

"We don't know yet, but we intend to find out," the sheriff said, adding that Clinkunbroomer was "murdered, ambushed by a coward."

Later Monday, Salazar's mother told the Los Angeles Times that her son is "mentally ill," but had never previously tried to hurt anyone except himself.

The Times is also reporting Salazar admitted to police he killed Clinkunbroomer.

In an interview in Spanish with the Times, Marle Salazar said her son was at home Saturday night after Clinkunbroomer was killed, and that her son did not show any signs of being nervous or having been involved in the shooting.

"My son is mentally ill, and if he did something, he wasn't in his full mental capacity," Marle Salazar told the Times -- adding that her son was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic about five years ago and that he would hear voices in his head.

At Monday's news conference, Luna read a statement from Clinkunbroomer's family.

"Our son Ryan was a dedicated hard-working deputy sheriff who enjoyed working here at the Palmdale station," according to the family.

"He was proud to work along the side of his partners that he considered brothers and sisters as he sacrificed daily to better the community that he served. Ryan made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so. Ryan was recently engaged to the love of his life. As our first-born son, Ryan will be greatly missed by his family, friends and the sheriff's department as a whole. Please keep Ryan's family, friends and colleagues in your prayers and respect everyone's privacy during our time of mourning."

Luna again urged residents who may have information related to the shooting to come forward.

"I want to stress that our investigators are still actively working this case," he said. "There's more information that we probably don't know at this time. Every piece of evidence, everything we have, will be analyzed and I do want to stress to our community that although we are extremely confident that we have the right (person) in custody, I am still asking people to come forward and give us any piece of information that they believe that they have.

"Why? Because the arrest is only one part of this. We have to get this individual prosecuted now to the full extent of the law, and we need the public's continued help and support in doing that."

County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose Fifth District includes Palmdale, said she "will not rest" until the deputy's killer is fully prosecuted.

"We need to send a clear message that this type of cowardly attack is not going to be tolerated, not here in the Antelope Valley, nowhere in L.A. County, quite frankly, nowhere in California, it shouldn't be anywhere in this nation.

"This was an attack on the law enforcement community. An attack on public safety. An attack on law abiding residents of Los Angeles County who believe in and support law and order."

She also pressed for answers about why the deputy was killed.

"Ryan's loved ones deserve answers," she said. "Why was Deputy Clinkunbroomer murdered? Who was involved and what is their background? I am determined to obtain those (answers) quickly as are our law enforcement partners and supporters who won't rest until we get the answers we deserve. Crimes like this, though, don't happen in a vacuum. We need to have a full picture of what motivated the murder and why this shooting transpired."

Meanwhile, the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs announced Monday that those wishing to donate to assist the slain deputy's family can send funds to the website

Clinkunbroomer was believed to have been stopped at a red light when he was shot.

On Sunday, Luna said a car that was seen pulling alongside Clinkunbroomer's patrol vehicle before speeding away in what he called "widely circulated video" was being considered a "vehicle of interest." He described it as a 2006-12 dark gray Toyota Corolla.

A dark gray Corolla was seen Monday morning being removed from outside the suspect's home.

Luna noted Saturday night that the slain deputy's father and grandfather had also been deputies, and that Clinkunbroomer had gotten engaged just four days before his death.

"He didn't deserve this," 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."

Luna struggled to hold back his emotions while discussing what he described as a targeted ambush killing.

"He was just driving down the street," Luna explained. "And for no apparent reason -- and we're still looking into the specific reasons -- somebody decided to shoot and murder him, I'm assuming at this point, because he was in uniform. That, to me, is sickening. That's not who this community is and that's why we stand up here collectively together really asking our community for your assistance as we move forward."

Anyone who witnessed anything related to the shooting, especially in the area of Sierra Highway at around 6 p.m. Saturday, was urged to call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500, or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477).

In response to the killing, multiple agencies announced on Sunday they were offering rewards for information leading to the killer. The county and city of Palmdale each offered $100,000, while ALADS put up another $50,000 in reward money.

Hundreds of people attended a vigil in memory of the fallen deputy Sunday night.

Luna said Clinkunbroomer was an eight-year veteran of the department and had been with the Palmdale station since July 2018. He served as a field training officer, which Luna said is a role reserved for only "the best of the best."

Last week, Clinkunbroomer's mother, Kim Etzel Clinkunbroomer, posted several photos of her son and his fiancé on Instagram with the message: "We are so excited to add to our family. Congrats to our son Ryan and his fiancé Brittany."

During an overnight procession, law enforcement officers escorted Clinkunbroomer's body to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

The last Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy shot and killed in the line of duty was Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, a 29-year department veteran who worked out of the Lancaster station and was shot while investigating a reported break- in on Oct. 5, 2016.

Deputy Alejandro Martinez died July 28, several months after he was struck by a wrong-way vehicle while training with dozens of colleagues near the sheriff's STARS Explorer Academy law enforcement training center in Whittier in November 2022. The driver, 22-year-old Nicholas Joseph Gutierrez of Diamond Bar, told reporters that he fell asleep at the wheel.

Deputy Steve Belanger died on Feb. 6, 2018, from a gunshot wound sustained on Dec. 10, 1994, when he was ambushed while conducting a traffic stop in the 18400 block of La Guardia Street in Rowland Heights. Doctors were unable to remove the bullet from Belanger's brain, and he remained under constant medical care and confined to a wheelchair until he died.

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