A gunman “ambushed” a Los Angeles county sheriff’s department deputy in his patrol car Saturday night, shooting him to death in a particularly brazen attack, authorities said.
The deputy, Ryan Clinkunbroomer, was found unconscious in his vehicle near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q in Palmdale, California. A passerby discovered the mortally wounded deputy and then alerted authorities.
Clinkunbroomer died after being taken to an area hospital, the Associated Press reported. “Despite the medical staff’s best efforts to save our deputy’s life, regrettably he succumbed to his injuries,” sheriff Robert Luna said, according to the AP.
Clinkunbroomer became engaged only four days before he was slain. His survivors include his betrothed, his parents and his grandparents.
A surveillance camera reportedly captured video of the shooting.
NBC News, citing law enforcement sources, said that video shows someone driving a car alongside Clinkunbroomer’s patrol cruiser and then speeding away. The fleeing car is a focus for authorities, NBC News reported.
Though Luna said he hadn’t ruled out any potential motives, he described fearing that the shooting may have been a “targeted attack” just because Clinkunbroomer “was in uniform”.
A source told NBC News that it was unclear whether investigators believed Clinkunbroomer may have been specifically targeted or if the shooter just wanted to attack someone in uniform. There have not been many leads, the source told the news network.
“Detectives are in the initial stages of this investigation and seeking the public’s assistance to apprehend this suspect,” Luna reportedly said on Saturday. “So I’m gonna continue with my notes, but I’m just gonna pause we really need your help.”
According to NBC News, Luna also said Clinkunbroomer “was just driving down the street and for no apparent reason – and we’re still looking into the specific reasons – somebody decided to shoot and murder him.
“We’re going to catch the person who did this. Because every resource that the Los Angeles county sheriff’s department has to bear is going after you.”
More than 80 police officers have been killed on duty or died from work-related injuries in 2023, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. Nearly 40 died from gunfire.
Clinkunbroomer was a third-generation law enforcement officer, following in the footstep of his grandfather and father, the AP reported.
NBC News said Clinkunbroomer had worked as a field training officer for the last year and a half.
Luna said the position Clinkunbroomer had was reserved for the “best of the best” at his agency.
“He embodied the values of bravery … selflessness, and an absolute commitment to justice,” Luna said of Clinkunbroomer. “Our deputy was a devoted family member and a shared cherished member of our community who was cowardly shot while working tirelessly to serve our community this evening.”
Luna said that the sheriff’s department was working alongside Palmdale authorities to find Clinkunbroomer’s killer.
“Palmdale loves the sheriff’s deputies and the deputies take very good care of Palmdale and love our community back,” the municipality’s mayor, Laura Bettencourt, told reporters. “The person that did this is a coward and they will be caught.”
The Associated Press contributed reporting.