The family of the man accused of killing a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy in what authorities described as a targeted “ambush” said he suffered from mental health issues.
Jessica Salazar, Kevin Salazar’s sister, told Fox Los Angeles that her brother was not in the right mental state when he allegedly shot and killed Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer on Saturday.
“My brother is being called a coward. He wasn’t in his right state of mind,” she said. “My brother suffered from schizophrenia. He suffered from paranoia.”
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Kevin Salazar, 29, allegedly shot and killed Clinkunbroomer, a 30-year-old field training officer, outside the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, located northeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Clinkunbroomer was found unconscious shot in his patrol vehicle. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced dead. Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna on Monday described the killing as an ambush.
Investigators have not determined a motive for the deadly shooting. Salazar was arrested Monday morning in Palmdale following a standoff with authorities.
“We are extremely confident that we have the right person in custody,” Luna said.
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Salazar’s mother, Marle Salazar, told the Los Angeles Times that her son was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic several years ago and that she called the sheriff’s department at least twice when he refused to take his medication. and became aggressive.
She said he had been hospitalized but stopped taking his medication about 10 months ago.
“My son has a mental illness and if he did something, he was not at his best mentally,” she told the newspaper. “They only say he was the one who shot the deputy, but no one says he has a criminal record for needing mental help.”
She said her son was home with his family after the shooting and did not appear to show any signs of nervousness or involvement. She told the Times he owned a gun.
Regarding his alleged mental state, Jessica Salazar said the family “does not justify” her brother’s alleged actions.
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“We’re thinking about family,” she said. “It hurts. Nobody wants to go through that.”
On Monday, Luna was asked about Salazar’s potential mental health issues.
“Think about that,” he said. “If I were to go to your family and tell them that you are not coming home and that you have just been murdered, does it matter what the person thinks or their condition?”