Before being arrested for the murder of a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy, a 29-year-old Palmdale man suspected of murder was diagnosed with schizophrenia, heard voices and attempted suicide by two times, his mother said Monday.
Kevin Cataneo Salazar of East Palmdale was arrested Monday morning at his family’s home, according to vehicle records and neighbors who witnessed the arrest.
Cataneo Salazar’s mother, Marle Salazar, said she and her family were caught off guard when law enforcement searched their home.
Cataneo Salazar was at home after the shooting, and despite news of the deadly attack and the ongoing manhunt, he did not appear upset or nervous, and gave no indication of what might have happened, his mother said.
“My son has a mental illness and if he did something, he was not at his peak mental capacity,” she said in an interview with the Times in Spanish.
“They only say he was the one who shot the deputy, but no one says he has a criminal record for needing mental help,” she said.
Salazar said her son was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic about five years ago. He said he heard voices in his head, she said, and sometimes came home to tell his parents or siblings that cars or people were following him in the streets.
Sometimes, she said, he would get so upset that he would cover his ears with his hands, scream or put his head in a trash can to try to drown out the voices.
“We would ask him what he would hear, and he would get hysterical,” she said.
He would get angry, she said, and she would try to calm him down. Often after such episodes, Salazar said her son begins to act like a child around 5 years old and asks to be held.
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She said she had previously called deputies at least twice to the Palmdale home for help, when her son refused to take his medication and began becoming aggressive toward himself. But she said Cataneo Salazar had never hurt anyone before and that her aggression was always directed at herself.
“I called the police several times,” she said. “At the end of the day, they were like, ‘He’s an adult, so if he doesn’t want to take [his medication]We can not do anything with it.
Twice since his diagnosis, she said, he has attempted suicide. “It wasn’t my son that did it, it was the illness that did it,” she said. “They say my son killed someone, but no one says my son is sick. He is sick and so many people talk about schizophrenia, but nothing happens.
She said her son had been hospitalized in Sylmar for the past year and seemed to be doing better. He stopped taking his medication about 10 months ago, but she said he seemed “calm,” so she and her family didn’t push it.
When police arrived, she and her family were confused, she said. After the shooting, she said, Cataneo Salazar was acting normally and there was no indication that a shooting had occurred.
“I didn’t know when it happened, I just saw it as normal,” she said. “We were here, working, cleaning chairs and tables and he was fine. None of us knew anything.
She said she also didn’t know Cataneo Salazar owned a gun, but detectives told her he legally purchased a gun that was used in the attack.
His son’s Facebook and Instagram bios both state: “Dead in a few days, weeks or years…”
He followed “League of Legends,” a popular video game, by writing a glowing online review of the online multiplayer battle arena in which he said it deserved a “100/10” rating.
In a photo posted in September, he posed at the Grove with Charli and Dixie D’Amelio at an event for the influencer’s shoe brand.
Julio Cruz, a neighbor of the suspect’s family, said he “heard the police talking on the megaphone” early Monday morning, “and they were saying, ‘Kevin, get out.’ Surrender.'”
Few details have been released, but law enforcement sources told the Times that authorities launched a massive manhunt after the killing, leading to a neighborhood in East Palmdale. Heavily armed police in tactical gear arrested a man during the nighttime operation, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.
According to surveillance video of the shooting shared with the Times, Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was shot Saturday as he led his patrol on Sierra Highway and stopped at a red light in front of the Palmdale sheriff’s station. Seconds later, a dark gray Toyota Corolla can be seen pulling up behind the marked black and white patrol vehicle and stopping before speeding off.
In those seconds, authorities say, the 30-year-old deputy was shot in the head. He died from his injuries a few hours later.
On Monday afternoon, relatives of the suspect’s home swept broken windows from a driveway as media approached.
Several news cameras were set up on the sidewalk outside the house.
A strong, irritating odor was coming from the front door, probably the remains of the chemicals used to expel the suspect.