California man accused of ambushing sheriff’s deputy enters insanity defense

By Sharon Bernstein

(Reuters) – A 29-year-old suburban Los Angeles man pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to murder on Wednesday in the ambush shooting of a sheriff’s deputy as he waited at a red traffic light, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascon said.

Kevin Eduardo Cataneo Salazar was arrested on Monday after an intensive manhunt and a four-hour standoff at a home in the high desert suburb of Palmdale. He was charged with one count of murder after allegedly lying in wait and shooting the deputy, Ryan Clinkunbroomer, 30, on Sept. 16.

“This ambush attack was absolutely unacceptable and an attack on law enforcement as a whole,” Gascon said. “Deputy Clinkunbroomer was in uniform, stopped at a red light in his patrol vehicle like thousands of other law enforcement officers and deputies do every day when he tragically lost his life while serving his community.”

Clinkunbroomer, a third generation law enforcement officer who had recently been engaged to be married, was found wounded in his vehicle by a passerby, who ran to the nearby sheriff’s station to seek help.

The deputy was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he died.

Gascon said that Salazar had followed Clinkunbroomer from the nearby Palmdale Sheriff’s station and shot him with a 22 caliber revolver from the front seat of his own vehicle before speeding away.

Authorities did not release a motive for the shooting. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Nov. 7 at the Anelope Valley Courthouse. If convicted, Salazar faces life in prison, Gascon said.

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein in Sacramento, California; Editing by Sandra Maler)