Kevin Cataneo Salazar, the man charged with murder in the ambush killing of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer, pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity during his arraignment on Wednesday. The incident occurred on Saturday in Palmdale, California, where Deputy Clinkunbroomer was shot while sitting in his patrol car. Cataneo Salazar, 29, was charged with one count of murder with special circumstances.
Cataneo Salazar’s attorney, George Rosenstock, entered a plea of not guilty and a dual plea of not guilty by reason of insanity on his behalf. Following an hourslong standoff with sheriff’s deputies, Cataneo Salazar was arrested on Monday after barricading himself inside his family’s Palmdale home. He is currently held without bail and is scheduled to return to court in November.
The motive behind the attack remains unclear, and it is unknown whether Clinkunbroomer and Cataneo Salazar had any prior connection. Prosecutors have not provided details on the case’s motive, and a news conference by the district attorney’s office is planned for later.
Cataneo Salazar’s mother, Marle Salazar, revealed that her son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia five years ago. She stated that he had experienced auditory hallucinations and paranoia, and had attempted suicide twice. Marle Salazar also mentioned that she had sought help from law enforcement in the past when her son refused to take his medication and became aggressive towards himself.
It is unclear whether Cataneo Salazar’s condition would have qualified him for seizure of firearms under California’s “red flag law” or other statutes designed to prevent individuals with mental illnesses from possessing guns. No records indicate that anyone had petitioned to seize his weapons or prevent him from purchasing them.
The investigation is ongoing, and further details are awaited.