Photo: The Canadian Press
Police cars block off a street where a sheriff’s deputy was shot while in his patrol car in Palmdale, Calif. on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2023. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)
Authorities asked for the public’s help and offered a $250,000 reward as investigators searched Sunday for the assailant who shot and killed a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy as he sat in his patrol car at an intersection.
Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer, 30, died at a hospital after being found unconscious in the vehicle while on duty around 6 p.m. Saturday in the city of Palmdale, Sheriff Robert Luna said.
Luna said he believed the shooting was a “targeted attack.” But the motive, and whether Clinkunbroomer or the department in general was the target, was not yet known.
“Without warning, he was murdered while serving our community,” an emotional Luna said at a Sunday news conference during which he urged any potential witnesses to contact detectives. “Please, I beg you. Somebody has information. Make things right.”
The department released grainy surveillance video of a dark-colored sedan that pulled alongside the patrol car in the moments before the shooting. Luna said investigators believe the “vehicle of interest” is a gray Toyota Corolla manufactured between 2006 and 2012.
Clinkunbroomer was found near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q in Palmdale by a person Luna identified as a “good Samaritan” who alerted personnel at the city’s sheriff’s station.
The deputy was taken to Antelope Valley Medical Center in Lancaster, where he was treated for a gunshot wound and eventually died.
“We’re going to catch the person who did this,” Luna said Saturday night. “Because every resource that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has to bear is going after you.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom called the killing “horrific, unconscionable, and shocking.” He ordered flags at the state capitol flown at half-staff in honor of Clinkunbroomer.
Clinkunbroomer, who transferred to the Palmdale station in July 2018, was a third-generation officer who followed his grandfather and father into the sheriff’s department, Luna said.
“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.”
The sheriff said his department was working closely with representatives from the city of Palmdale, about 61 miles (98 kilometers) northeast of Los Angeles.
“Palmdale loves the sheriff’s deputies, and the deputies take very good care of Palmdale and love our community back,” Mayor Laura Bettencourt said at the news conference. “The person that did this is a coward. and they will be caught.”
“It is sickening, heartbreaking news,” Republican state Sen. Scott Wilk, who represents Palmdale, posted Saturday evening on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
A vigil for Clinkunbroomer was scheduled for Sunday evening outside the Palmdale sheriff’s station.