PALMDALE, Calif. — A 29-year-old man was arrested early Monday, 36 hours after the ambush killing of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who was shot as he sat in a patrol car, authorities said.
The suspect barricaded himself inside a home in the city of Palmdale for several hours, but later surrendered and weapons were recovered, Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna told a news conference.
Luna said authorities have not yet determined a motive for the killing of 30-year-old Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer on Saturday evening. 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.
“I feel extremely confident that we have the right person in custody,” Luna said.
“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.
On Monday, Luna read a statement from Clinkunbroomer's family, 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.”
Clinkunbroomer had just left the sheriff’s station in Palmdale, a city of more than 167,000 residents in the high desert of northern Los Angeles County. A “good Samaritan” spotted him and alerted station personnel.
The department later released grainy surveillance video of a dark-colored sedan that pulled alongside the patrol car in the moments before the shooting.
Luna said community members came forward with information that led homicide investigators to identify the suspect and the vehicle.
Early Monday, a SWAT team from the department's Special Enforcement Bureau served a search warrant at the residence and called for all occupants to come out, the sheriff said.
Family members came out but the suspect barricaded himself inside, he said. Deputies used de-escalation techniques including negotiators before they “deployed chemical agents” and the suspect surrendered, Luna said. He did not identify the weapons that were seized.
The sheriff said he was proud “because 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.”
The sheriff said Clinkunbroomer had been assigned to the Palmdale station since July 2018, and that his father and grandfather had also served in the department.
“Deputy Sheriff Ryan Clinkunbroomer and his family are an integral part of the very essence of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and this heart-wrenching murder cuts to the very core of our being,” Richard Pippin, the president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, the deputies’ union, said in a statement.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the killing “horrific, unconscionable and shocking.” He ordered flags at the state Capitol flown at half-staff in Clinkunbroomer's honor.
“In this time of mourning, we honor this legacy and send our deepest sympathies to Deputy Clinkunbroomer’s fiancée, his loved ones, and the men and women of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department,” Newsom said in a statement Sunday. “Deputy Clinkunbroomer’s devotion to community and country will never be forgotten.”
Deputy William Warner, who trained Clinkunbroomer, told the Los Angeles Times his determination to follow in his father‘s and grandfather’s footsteps was evident in his work ethic.
“He just wanted to do the best that he could do,” Warner said, “and do his small part to make a difference in the best way that he could.”
Antczak reported from Los Angeles. Associated Press reporter Julie Watson contributed from San Diego.