Police Arrest 29-Year-Old in Ambush Shooting of Los Angeles County Deputy

A 29-year-old man was arrested early Monday morning in the ambush-style killing of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy over the weekend, the authorities announced hours after engaging in a standoff at a Southern California home.

The deputy, Ryan Clinkunbroomer, 30, who was on duty and in uniform, was shot on Saturday night when his vehicle was stopped at a red light, shortly after leaving a police station in Palmdale, a city north of Los Angeles. The killing was captured on surveillance video and led to a major manhunt over the weekend.

Acting on tips from community members, sheriff’s deputies arrested a man they identified as Kevin Cataneo Salazar on suspicion of killing Deputy Clinkunbroomer, according to Robert Luna, the sheriff of Los Angeles County.

Sheriff Luna said at a news conference on Monday that after members of the suspect’s family came out of a home in Palmdale, the suspect barricaded himself in for several hours. Officers tried to use hostage negotiators to no avail, and then deployed chemical agents to draw Mr. Cataneo Salazar outside.

“He never gave our deputy a chance, but yet our men and women gave this individual a chance to take him into custody peacefully,” Sheriff Luna said at the news conference.

After the shooting, officials described a “vehicle of interest” as a dark gray Toyota Corolla made between 2006 and 2012, and they announced a $250,000 reward for information leading to a suspect’s arrest and prosecution. Sheriff Luna said on Monday that media reports, which circulated photos and a description of the vehicle, were helpful in eliciting the tips that led to the arrest.

The vehicle in question, as well as several firearms, were taken by investigators at the house, Sheriff Luna said.

Deputy Clinkunbroomer, who was transferred to the Palmdale station in July 2018, had worked in the sheriff’s department for about eight years, following in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, officials said. For the past year and a half, he also trained and supervised other deputies. “Not just anybody becomes a field training officer,” Sheriff Luna said over the weekend. “It’s usually the best of the best.”

“Our deputy was a devoted family member and a cherished community member,” Sheriff Luna said in a statement Sunday.

Deputy Clinkunbroomer had gotten engaged only four days earlier, he added.

According to statistics released by the F.B.I. concerning officers killed in the line of duty, five officers have died in 2023 through August in situations designated as “ambushes.” Twelve officers were killed on the job in such situations in all of last year; eight were killed in 2021 and nine in 2020.

Palmdale has a recent history of tension between law enforcement officers and the community. In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced a settlement involving a set of police reforms in Palmdale and the nearby city of Lancaster after an investigation found patterns of excessive use of force, biased policing practices and unlawful searches and seizures.

Monitors overseeing the settlement in Palmdale and Lancaster have documented a lack of progress in the past two years toward the goals set in the settlement, including a resistance to change and denial of responsibility. Their report this year cited several areas in need of improvement, including daily interactions with the public, but it also recognized “new signs of commitment to reforms” and better communication and transparency.

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