By Signal Staff
Just 36 hours after Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was murdered in his patrol vehicle, deputies with the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department arrested a 29-year-old Palmdale man on suspicion of the killing.
Sheriff Robert Luna confirmed in a Monday morning press conference at the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station that Kevin Cataneo Salazar had been arrested after an hours-long standoff with Special Enforcement Bureau deputies at the suspect’s home on the 37700 block of Barrinson Street in Palmdale.
“This is still a very fluid investigation,” and there could be additional arrests in the case, Luna said, but added, “Right now we believe we have the murderer of our deputy in custody.”
Clinkunbroomer, a 30-year-old Santa Clarita Valley resident, was in uniform and behind the wheel of his marked patrol vehicle at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday when a good Samaritan found him unconscious and in medical distress at an intersection in front of the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station. The deputy was rushed to a nearby hospital and died later Saturday night.
Luna said investigators received tips on Sunday afternoon that led them to the suspect. “Community members came forward with information, which led homicide detectives to identify the suspect and the vehicle used in the murder of Deputy Clinkunbroomer.”
Luna praised the investigators and deputies involved in making the arrest for their professionalism during challenging circumstances.
When deputies arrived at the suspect’s home Monday morning, they called out for the members of Salazar’s family to exit the home, and they complied, but Salazar did not.
“The suspect chose to barricade himself,” Luna said.
A standoff ensued for several hours as SEB deputies tried to de-escalate the situation and encouraged Salazar to be taken into custody peacefully. When those efforts did not succeed, deputies used non-lethal weapons to flush him out of the house.
“Eventually, they deployed chemical agents and the suspect ultimately surrendered,” Luna said. “Those special enforcement deputies took the time to try to de-escalate this and take this individual peacefully into custody when they knew that our deputy was not afforded the same opportunity.”
Investigators recovered “numerous firearms” and the dark gray Toyota Corolla that was believed to be used in the Saturday shooting, Luna said, adding that, although “we are extremely confident that we have the right person in custody,” the Sheriff’s Department is still asking for the public’s assistance to provide any information that could help investigators present the strongest case possible to the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office.
Luna added that he had personally spoken with District Attorney George Gascón on Monday morning and the DA assured him that prosecutors will aggressively pursue the case.
The sheriff also read a statement from Clinkunbroomer’s family, and asked the gathered media to respect their privacy as they mourn.
“Our son Ryan was a dedicated, hardworking deputy sheriff who enjoyed working here at the Palmdale station,” the statement said. “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.”
The family’s statement added: “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.”
Also speaking at the press conference were county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita and Antelope valleys, Palmdale Mayor Laura Bettencourt and Richard Pippin, president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs.
“This was an attack on the law enforcement community, an attack on public safety,” Barger said. “We need to send a clear message that this kind of cowardly attack is not going to be tolerated.”
Clinkunbroomer was a 2010 West Ranch High School graduate and a third-generation deputy, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a captain in the LASD, and his father, who retired a few years ago as a lieutenant.
He and his fiancée became engaged just four days before he was killed.