The campground at California’s Malibu Creek State Park has been “closed indefinitely” as detectives investigate the shooting death of a 35-year-old man and several other shooting incidents that have occurred in the vicinity of the park over the past two years.
The Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday that at least five unsolved shooting incidents — in which at least one person was injured — had taken place in “areas in and around the park” since 2016. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said it was taking another look at some of the earlier incidents to find possible links to the recent slaying. Officials stressed, however, that no evidence of a connection between the shootings had been found.
Tristan Beaudette was shot in the head in the early hours of Friday morning while he was sleeping in a tent at Malibu Creek State Park, a popular hiking and camping spot in the Calabasas area, with his 2-year-old and 4-year-old daughters. A chemist who worked in pharmaceuticals, Beaudette had reportedly taken his children camping for the night so his wife, an obstetrician, could study for an exam. The girls were not injured in the shooting.
Police said they were treating the case as a homicide. No suspect or motive for the crime has yet been identified.
Commenting on the case this week, Mary Ellen O’Toole, director of the Forensic Science Program at George Mason University, told CBS News that investigators will likely be searching for clues at the park where Beaudette died.
“They’ll be attempting to see what type of weapon was used in the shooting and then if that weapon was somehow connected to other shootings especially ones that took place in that park,” O’Toole said.
According to the Times, a man named James Rogers was struck by birdshot from a shotgun while sleeping overnight in Tapia Park, located just south of Malibu Creek State Park, in November 2016. Rogers said he underwent surgery to remove the pellets that struck him.
Two months later, a woman named Melissa Tatangelo said she heard a loud noise in the wee hours of the morning while camping out in her car at Malibu Creek State Park. She said she later found a bullet hole in the back of the vehicle. If the bullet had struck an inch higher, Tatangelo told KTLA this week, she would’ve been hit.
The L.A. County sheriff’s department confirmed to the Times that three other shootings had occurred since June 2017 in the park’s vicinity.
Residents in the area have expressed alarm that law enforcement had not alerted them to the earlier shooting incidents.
Nicole Nishida, a spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department, said the department had “previously increased patrols in the areas nearby following the prior incidents, and has canvassed the surrounding residences in an effort to obtain any workable information.”
“Deputies will continue to maintain a highly visible presence in the vicinity to ensure public safety,” she said.