Local, regional, state, and federal law enforcement agencies are joining forces to identify and apprehend the person or persons responsible for what is being described as an ambush murder of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer in Palmdale, California, the evening of Sept. 16, according to statements made in a press conference led by Sheriff Robert Luna.
“The full resources of the sheriff’s department and all our law enforcement partners are not going to rest until we find this individual,” Mr. Luna said in a press conference held just after midnight on Sept. 17. “We have a lot of investigators on it, and we’ll figure it all out.”
Mr. Clinkunbroomer, 30, left the Palmdale station at approximately 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 while on duty, in uniform, in a marked police vehicle, according to the sheriff.
Video evidence circulating on social media, reportedly from sheriff’s department surveillance cameras, shows Mr. Clinkunbroomer’s vehicle driving and stopping at a red light at the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q.
Footage shows a dark-colored sedan approaching the marked police unit from behind, pulling alongside, and then speeding away. The police vehicle then rolls forward a few feet before stopping.
At another news conference on Sept. 17 around 4 p.m., the sheriff announced the department was looking for a "vehicle of interest" from the "widely circulated video," described as a 2006 to 2012 dark gray Toyota Corolla.
After the officer was shot, a “good Samaritan” discovered him in distress and notified authorities, and they immediately rendered aid to the wounded officer—who was ultimately pronounced dead at Antelope Valley Medical Center around 11 p.m., due to a gunshot wound to the head—according to the sheriff.
“It appears he was fired upon. We’re going to catch the person who did this,” Mr. Luna said before issuing a warning to the person responsible for the crime. “Every resource the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has to bear is going after you.”
Law enforcement officials are requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the perpetrator, and the sheriff made repeated pleas for information during the 25-minute press conference.
“We really need your help to get this guy off the street. He’s a public safety threat,” Mr. Luna said. “We need your ears and your eyes to help us. Together, we can ensure that this senseless murder and the person who committed it are held accountable to the full extent of the law.”
The sheriff remembered Mr. Clinkunbroomer as an exemplary officer, “cherished by the department,” and a proud, third-generation deputy sheriff—his father and grandfather also served in the same department.
“Service was running through his veins,” Mr. Luna said. “He embodied the values of bravery, selflessness, and a commitment to justice.”
As a deputy with nearly eight years of experience and more than one and a half as a field training officer—responsible for evaluating, guiding, and supervising new officers—Mr. Clinkunbroomer was recognized as a highly respectable figure in the department.
“Not just anyone becomes a field training officer, it’s usually just the best of the best,” Mr. Luna said.
This is the first loss by shooting of an on-duty Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officer since Sergeant Steve Owen was killed responding to a burglary call in 2016, and the sheriff reports the department is reeling from the murder.
Retired California Highway Patrol sergeant and Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) told The Epoch Times the attack is felt by all members of law enforcement, with anxiety and fears escalated following such an ambush on a fellow officer.
"This has a lasting impact on people,” Mr. Lackey said. “It’s not understood unless you’ve actually been in that arena.”
With tensions high between some residents and police officers following movements to defund police after the death of George Floyd in Minnesota in 2020 while being apprehended, the killing of the sheriff’s deputy Sept. 16 further complicates matters, according to Mr. Lackey.
“There’s been some very mixed feelings about law enforcement over the last several years, and when you’re in the game and you’re feeling under-appreciated and mischaracterized—and then something like this happens—it’s just a very difficult matter to reconcile,” he said. “This is unique because this is a full-blown sabotage on any kind of sense of security—not just for law enforcement, but for all people—that someone would cavalierly feel bold enough, in broad daylight, to pull up beside a deputy and shoot them.”
Fellow law enforcement officials voiced their anger, disbelief, and commitment to apprehending the suspect responsible for the murder.
“No words can adequately express the profound condemnation we feel for the cowards who committed this heinous act and the devastating havoc they have wreaked upon the Clinkunbroomer family, Southern California, our nation, and the dedicated men and women in law enforcement who tirelessly strive every day to protect the people of this county,” Richard Pippin, vice president of the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs—a group representing more than 8,000 deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators—said in a statement Sept. 17. “I assure you that every law enforcement officer in the region is focused on relentlessly pursuing these criminals until justice is served.”
A Los Angeles County official also offered words of support to those affected by the incident and called for a quick arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator.
"There are a lot of unanswered questions—including who committed this heinous and brazen attack and why,” Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County supervisor, said in a statement Sept. 17. “Whoever is responsible must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and brought to swift justice.”
Support for Mr. Clinkunbroomer’s family, friends, and fellow officers poured in from hundreds of posts on social media.
“Words cannot express the shock, sadness and anger over this senseless loss of an exemplary deputy and an even better human being,” colleagues from the Palmdale Sheriff’s Department wrote on X Sept. 17. “Deputy Clinkunbroomer strived for excellence in everything he did. He was very thorough in his investigations, genuinely cared for the community he served, and he was always willing to help out his partners any time they needed it.”
Speaking for the community of Palmdale, Mayor Laura Bettencourt urged residents to come together and support the Clinkunbroomers and the sheriff’s department while stressing that those responsible for the crime will face justice.
“The person that did this is a coward, and they will be caught,” she said during the same press conference Sept. 17. “We do not tolerate this kind of behavior in Palmdale.”
The sheriff asked anyone who witnessed or recorded anything around 6 p.m. Sept. 16, especially near the intersection of Sierra Highway and Avenue Q in Palmdale, to contact detectives at 323-890-5500. Those who wish to remain anonymous can report details to 1-800-222-TIPS.
A spokesperson for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department declined requests for additional comment.