PALMDALE (CNS) - Local officials are expressing remorse, and outrage, following the death of a third-generation Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy, who was shot while in his patrol car in front of the department's Palmdale station -- while a manhunt was underway for the suspect.
"Words cannot describe my immense sorrow for the tragic loss of a brave deputy's life tonight," Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said in a statement late Saturday after learning 30-year-old Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer had died after being shot earlier in the day.
"My heart breaks for his family, his fellow officers, and the community at large. There are a lot of unanswered questions -- including who committed this heinous and brazen attack and why. Whoever is responsible must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and brought to swift justice."
Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna announced Clinkunbroomer's death during a news conference at the City of Hope Antelope Valley, saying his father and grandfather had also been deputies and that the veteran deputy had become engaged just four days earlier.
"He didn't deserve this," Luna said "This is so unfair. We're hurting because we lost somebody. It hurts bad. It sucks, just to put it bluntly. Our hearts absolutely go out to his family."
Luna struggled to hold back his emotions while discussing what he described as a targeted ambush killing.
"He was just driving down the street," Luna explained. "And for no apparent reason -- and we're still looking into the specific reasons -- somebody decided to shoot and murder him, I'm assuming at this point, because he was in uniform. That, to me, is sickening. That's not who this community is and that's why we stand up here collectively together really asking our community for your assistance as we move forward."
Clinkunbroomer was "found in medical distress" in front of the Palmdale Sheriff's Station at about 6 p.m. Saturday when a Good Samaritan stopped to render aid.
"Thank god for this Good Samaritan," Luna said, "somebody (who) chose not to just drive by."
The wounded deputy was transported to Antelope Valley Medical Center in grave condition.
According to media reports, Clinkunbroomer was stopped in a patrol car at a red light when he was shot.
He was found in front of the station at Sierra Highway and East Avenue Q with a gunshot wound to the head.
Video from the scene showed a vehicle drive up behind the patrol car, then pull alongside momentarily before speeding away.
It was unclear whether this was the suspect, the Good Samaritan or someone else.
Shortly after 11 p.m., the department announced Clinkunbroomer had died.
"I want to let to our community know Deputy Clinkunbroomer left his family tonight to serve our community," Luna said. "He laid everything on the line to serve us. He wore a uniform just like other @LASDHQ deputies wear, driving in a police car, and he was senselessly murdered tonight.
"From everything I know about Ryan, people absolutely loved and adored him. He wasn't just one of our Deputy Sheriffs. He was a third- generation deputy. His father and grandfather served with us. Service was running through his veins. He embodied the values of bravery, selflessness and was committed to justice. Our deputy was a devoted family member and a cherished community member. He was cowardly shot while working tirelessly to serve our community this evening.
"Our hearts go out to his family. We cannot fully understand their pain, but we will stand with them in solidarity and support them during this difficult time. They deserve unwavering compassion, and we will do everything in our power to provide them with assistance and care."
Luna said Clinkunbroomer was an eight-year veteran of the department and had been with the Palmdale station since July 2018. He served as a field training officer, which Luna said is a role reserved for only "the best of the best."
Last week, Clinkunbroomer's mother, Kim Etzel Clinkunbroomer, posted several photos of her son and his fiancé on Instagram with the message: "We are so excited to add to our family. Congrats to our son Ryan and his fiancé Brittany."
During an overnight procession, law enforcement officers escorted Clinkunbroomer's body to the Los Angeles County Coroner's office.
He is believed to be the first Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy shot and killed in the line of duty since Oct. 5, 2016 shooting death of 29- year department veteran Sgt. Steve Owen, 53, of the Lancaster Sheriff's Station while investigating a reported break-in.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn was among those posting on social media in the hours after Clinkunbroomer's shooting and death.
"The shooting of a @LASDHQ deputy in his patrol car in Palmdale today is senseless and horrific," Hahn tweeted Saturday. "Tonight I'm praying for him, his friends, fellow deputies at @PalmdaleSheriff, and especially his loved ones."
Other law enforcement agencies also offered their condolences.
"On behalf of @ChiefNisleit and the entire San Diego Police Department, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer and the entire Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department during this heartbreaking time."
The Los Angeles Police Department's Harbor Division tweeted just before 9 p.m. Saturday: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Palmdale deputy ... that was ambushed while sitting inside his police vehicle."
Luna said homicide detectives were studying videos broadcast during local news reports that appear to show a vehicle drive up behind Clinkunbroomer's patrol car. But he also implored anyone who has video or information to provide it to the department.
"We are utilizing every resource available to apprehend the suspect responsible for this heinous crime," the sheriff said. ``Somebody saw something. Somebody knows something. There is a family here at this hospital grieving an unimaginable loss. We need your help."
Anybody who witnessed anything related to the shooting, especially in the area of Sierra Highway around 6 p.m. Saturday, was urged to call the Sheriff's Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500, or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).