The man accused of killing a Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy suffers from schizophrenia, according to his mother.
Kevin Salazar, 29, was arrested on Monday after he allegedly gunned down Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer, 30, inside his patrol car in what authorities believed to be a targeted ambush.
Mr Salazar barricaded himself in his Palmdale family home for hours before he finally surrendered to the Los Angeles County Police, Sheriff Robert Luna said in a press conference on Monday.
Marle Salazar, the suspect’s mother, revealed in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that her son had a paranoid schizophrenic diagnosis about five years ago. He said he could hear voices in his head and that people or cars were following him as he walked in the street.
She said that she and her family were caught off guard when police showed up to raid their home.
Mr Salazar had returned home after he allegedly shot the deputy while he was stopped at a red light in his patrol car just outside the Palmdale sheriff’s station. News came that a shooting had taken place and that police had started a manhunt for the killer, but Mr Salazar seemed unphased, his mother said.
“My son is mentally ill, and if he did something, he wasn’t in his full mental capacity,” she said. “They’re only saying that he was the one that shot the deputy, but nobody is saying he has a record for needing mental help.”
His mother stressed in the interview that he has had two suicide attempts in the past. “It’s not my son that did it, it’s the disease that did it,” she said. “They are putting all this out there that my son killed someone, but nobody is saying that my son is sick. He’s sick, and so many people talk about schizophrenia, but then nothing happens.”
However, Mr Salazar allegedly stopped taking his medication around 10 months ago, but the family did not encourage him to continue because he seemed “calm” and was doing better.
According to the mother, she did not know her son had legally purchased a gun that was allegedly used to attack the police officer.
His mother and his family said they had absolutely no indication of what happened when he came home.
“I didn’t know when it happened, I just saw him normal,” she said. “We were here, working, cleaning chairs and tables and he was OK. None of us knew anything.”
Law enforcement told the Los Angeles Times they launched a manhunt that led them to the house in East Palmdale and arrested Mr Salazar after hours of him barricading himself in the family home.
While his family exited immediately, Mr Salazar decided to detain himself in the house, but officers were able to employ “various techniques” to de-escalate the situation and lure the suspect out of the house.
After he was arrested, the officers were able to recover a “substantial amount of firearms” from the suspect’s home. They also identified his car, a dark grey Toyota Corolla, which pulled up behind Mr Clinkunbroomer’s patrol car before he was killed.
Clinkunbroomer was on duty Saturday night when he was ambushed, LA Sheriff Robert Luna said. The deputy was found unconscious by a “good samaritan” around 6pm.
In a statement from Mr Clinkunbroomer’s family, they said that he was a hardworking deputy who was proud to work alongside his colleagues while keeping the community safe.
“Ryan made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so. 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,” the statement read.
Mr Salazar is under arrest for murder, but the investigation is ongoing.