PALMDALE, Calif. — A man barricaded himself inside a home Monday before he was forced out and arrested in connection to the fatal shooting of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy, authorities said.
A SWAT team surrounded the suspect’s house in Palmdale, and “family members did come out” but “the suspect chose to barricade and refused to initially come out,” Sheriff Robert Luna told reporters, as he described the arrest of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer’s alleged killer.
After an hours-long standoff on Barrinson Street, deputies “deployed chemical agents, and the suspect ultimately surrendered,” Luna added.
The sheriff credited deputies for their patience and taking the 29-year-old suspect, Kevin Salazar, alive.
“Our special enforcement bureau deputies were so professional in giving the suspect adequate time to surrender peacefully,” Luna said.
“Our deputies gave this suspect an opportunity to peacefully give up. That is not the right that was afforded to our deputy three days ago out here across the street.”
Salazar has been dealing with schizophrenia for years and had been on medication, his family said Monday.
“It’s not justifying anything, it’s just getting a little bit of awareness,” sister Yessica Salazar said. “He was mentally ill. He heard voices. We tried to help him. I mean it’s just that we wanted it to get known also that he wasn’t a coward. He was … on a rampage on the schizophrenia.”
A bystander called 911 after spotting the 30-year-old deputy unconscious in his car at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Southern California suburb that’s a little more than 60 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, officials said.
Clinkunbroomer was rushed to the hospital but could not be revived.
Investigators said Sunday they were looking for a car — a dark-colored 2006 to 2012 Toyota Corolla — that was seen near Clinkunbroomer’s vehicle just before the shooting.
When the picture of that car went out Sunday, Yessica Salazar said her family spread those images with no idea they were to be linked to her brother.
“We we were like really genuinely like, ‘Oh my god, this poor guy.’ We shared pictures,” she said.
“So we even shared those pictures. ‘Hey, let it spread. Let the word spread you know, let’s find this person,’ not knowing that it was that a rampage, an episode of the schizophrenia that my brother was going through.”
Clinkunbroomer had just left the station when he was discovered near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q, officials said.
Law enforcement officials familiar with the investigation said Sunday that a video clip that shows a car pulling alongside the patrol car before it speeds away is a focus in the investigation.
The sheriff on Monday did not reveal how investigators came to connect the man they have in custody to Clinkunbroomer’s slaying, though Luna said tips from the public played a key role.
Deputies recovered “numerous weapons” from the home, according to the sheriff. Salazar had legally purchased and registered weapons, his sister confirmed.
“We have the person that we believe is responsible for the tragic murder of Ryan,” Luna said.
Authorities did not immediately say or speculate what might have motivated Saturday’s slaying.
“Ryan’s loved ones and the community at large demand, and now deserve, answers,” said L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the area where Saturday’s murder happened. “Why was Clinkunbroomer murdered? Who was involved? And what is their background?”
She added: “We need to have a full picture of what motivated the murder and why this shooting transpired.”
Local sheriff’s deputies were aware of Salazar’s mental health struggles and had been to the family’s house before, Yessica Salazar said.
A sheriff’s spokesperson declined comment Monday afternoon when asked if there had been calls for service to Salazar’s home before Saturday’s shooting.
Earlier during his meeting with reporters Sheriff Luna declined to say whether the suspect had any mental health issues.
“Whether mental health is a factor or not, think about this: If I had to go to your family and tell them that you were not coming home and you were just murdered, does it matter what that person was thinking or their condition?” Luna said.
Clinkunbroomer was a well regarded deputy and had been working as a field training officer for the past 1 1/2 years, officials said.
The victim, a third-generation deputy, got engaged to his girlfriend four days before the fatal attack, Luna said. The victim’s grandfather rose to the rank of captain and his father was a lieutenant.
“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,” according to a family statement issued on Monday. “Ryan made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.”
Luna spoke to reporters in front of the Palmdale station, where Clinkunbroomer worked, with a picture of the slain deputy on the door and the words, “E.O.W. 9/16/2023.”
“E.O.W.” stands for “end of watch,” a term frequently used to mark the date a member of law enforcement is killed in the line of duty.
Dana Griffin and Stephanie Fuerte reported from Palmdale and David K. Li from New York City.