A 29-year-old man was arrested early Monday morning in the killing of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was gunned down over the weekend in what authorities believed to be a targeted ambush.
The suspect, identified as Kevin Salazar, barricaded himself in his Palmdale home for hours before finally surrendering, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna said during a press conference Monday.
The arrest came just 36 hours after 30-year-old Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was fatally shot while he sat in his patrol car at an intersection in Palmdale.
“We are extremely confident we have the right person in custody,” Sheriff Luna said, adding that the investigation is still ongoing and urged the community to keep sending in tips.
Clinkunbroomer was on duty Saturday night and sitting in his patrol car at an intersection in Palmdale, California, when he was ambushed, LA Sheriff Robert Luna said. The deputy was found unconscious by a “good samaritan” around 6pm.
“Without warning, he was murdered while serving our community,” an emotional Luna said at a Sunday news conference. “He ambushed and killed — murdered — one of our deputies,” Mr Luna said, describing the suspect as a “public safety threat.”
Sheriff Luna said authorities have not yet determined a motive for the killing. He described the situation as “fluid” and said there could be more arrests but that he believes the suspect is the person who killed the deputy.
“Our deputy was in uniform in a marked black-and-white police vehicle right in front of the station,” Luna said. “Why did he do this? I have no idea. Was he targeted? I’m assuming he was but ... our intent is to find out.”
Hundreds attended a vigil outside the Palmdale sheriff’s station Sunday for the third-generation law-enforcement officer who had got engaged just four days before he was shot and killed.
“He was just starting his life,” the sheriff said.
The sheriff also released a statement on Facebook, writing that the “eight-year veteran of the LASD” was “senselessly murdered tonight.”
“From everything I know about Ryan, people absolutely loved and adored him. He wasn’t just one of our Deputy Sheriffs. He was a third generation deputy. His father and grandfather served with us,” the statement read.
“Service was running through his veins. He embodied the values of bravery, selflessness and was committed to justice. Our deputy was a devoted family member and a cherished community member. He was cowardly shot while working tirelessly to serve our community this evening,” the sheriff added.
A statement from Clinkunbroomer’s family was read by the sheriff on Monday, saying he was dedicated, hardworking and proud to serve alongside his colleagues.
“Ryan made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so,” the statement said. “Ryan was recently engaged to the love of his life. As our firstborn son, Ryan will be greatly missed by his family, friends and the sheriff’s department as a whole.”