PALMDALE (CNS) - The mother of the man suspected of gunning down a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy in Palmdale said Monday her son is "mentally ill" but had never previously tried to hurt anyone except himself.
In an interview in Spanish with the Los Angeles Times, Marle Salazar said her son -- 29-year-old Kevin Cataneo Salazar -- was at home Saturday night after Deputy Ryan Clinkunbroomer was fatally shot and the manhunt was underway. But she said her son didn't show any sign of being nervous or having been involved in the shooting.
"We were here, working, cleaning chairs and tables and he was OK," she told The Times. "None of us knew anything."
She said she didn't know her son owned a gun, but detectives told her that he had legally purchased the weapon that was used to shoot the deputy.
Marle Salazar told the paper she and the rest of the family were caught off guard when deputies arrived at their house early Monday morning.
"My son is mentally ill, and if he did something, he wasn't in his full mental capacity," she told The Times. "They're only saying that he was the one that shot the deputy, but nobody is saying he has a record for needing mental help."
She told the paper her son was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic about five years ago and he would hear voices in his head. At times, he would get upset and cover his ears with his hands, yell or still his head in a trash can in an effort to drown out the voices, she said.
Marle Salazar told The Times she called sheriff's deputies at least twice in the past when her son refused to take his medication and became aggressive toward himself, but she was always told there was nothing the deputies could do. She said her son tried to commit suicide twice since his diagnosis.
She told the paper her son was hospitalized during the past year in Sylmar and he seemed to improve. He stopped taking his medication about 10 months ago, but he was behaving calmly so the family didn't try to intervene.
"They are putting all this out there that my son killed someone, but nobody is saying that my son is sick," she told The Times. "He's sick, and so many people talk about schizophrenia, but then nothing happens."