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Father killed at Malibu campground was shot in head, coroner says

Tristan Beaudette, a father who was killed while camping with his two young daughters at Malibu Creek State Park campground, was shot in the head, a coroner’s spokesman revealed Wednesday.

The announcement comes as Los Angeles County sheriff’s homicide detectives continue to investigate the slaying while examining a series of other shootings in the area of the state park off Las Virgenes Road.

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Los Angeles County coroner’s Deputy Chief Ed Winter said that an autopsy had determined that Beaudette, 35, of Irvine was killed by a gunshot to the head last Friday shortly before 5 a.m at the campground. Winter said further details of the medical examiner’s findings would be available once a full medical report is transcribed.

Beaudette, a scientist who worked in pharmaceuticals, was camping at the state park in Calabasas just off Las Virgenes Road when he was fatally shot inside his tent, where he was sleeping with his 2- and 4-year-old daughters.

Since the slaying, information has emerged that at least five other shootings have occurred in the area in the last two years, outraging some neighbors who complained they had not been notified of the attacks by the sheriff’s department.

Nicole Nishida, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, said three other shootings occurred in the last year “nearby within the sheriff’s jurisdiction.” Nishida said the shootings happened June 6, 2017; July 22, 2017; and June 18, 2018.

Detectives will also be working with officials from the California State Parks Department to compare any similar incidents that have occurred within Malibu Creek State Park, Nishida said.

Nishida provided the numbers to The Times after the newspaper published accounts from 2016 and January 2017 of shootings that targeted campers.

A young man hiking the Backbone Trail and sleeping overnight in a hammock in Tapia Park, just south of Malibu Creek State Park, was struck by birdshot from a shotgun on Nov. 3, 2016.

James Rogers said he needed surgery to remove the pellets that hit him. “I heard a loud bang and then felt a burning sensation in my arm and fell to the ground,” he said. “Before I could look at my wound, I did a quick check of the perimeter and I saw nothing.

“I sleep with my arm up by my head, and I suspect I was shot at close range,” he said.

Rogers said there has been no headway in the investigation of his shooting. He said he was not sleeping in a formal campground and was about 200 yards from Malibu Canyon Road when he was shot in his right arm.

“I was told by those working out there, there have been several other shootings,” he said.

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Meliss Tatangelo was camping in her Honda when she heard a loud noise around 5 a.m. in January 2017. She and another camper did not go outside, but she later found part of an ammunition round in the back of her car where she had been sleeping. She reported the incident to authorities, she noted on her Facebook page.

She wrote that she believes a shotgun was fired from about 20 feet away and if the line of fire had been an inch higher, she would have been struck as she slept.

L.A. County Sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Moore, who is overseeing the latest investigation, said in an interview Monday that detectives had no evidence connecting any prior shootings to Beaudette’s death but that they also could not rule out any potential links.

The campground at Malibu Creek State Park remains closed indefinitely since Friday’s shooting.

“The safety of park visitors is our top priority,” parks officials said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the victim and his family during this difficult time.”

Beaudette, an Irvine resident and a veteran of the outdoors, was camping to allow his wife, an Orange County obstetrician, some quiet time to study for an examination. Before 5 a.m., sheriff’s deputies responded to a call regarding shots fired in the area and found Beaudette bleeding. He died before he could be taken to a hospital.

Deputies and police dogs scoured the campground and surrounding trails for clues.

In a statement, Nishida said, “Malibu/Lost Hills Station has 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.”

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