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After string of Malibu shootings, detectives test rifle in hopes of breakthrough

After string of Malibu shootings, detectives test rifle in hopes of breakthrough
Investigators used ballistic testing to determine if a rifle carried by a burglary suspect is connected to a series of shootings in the Malibu Creek State Park area. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Los Angeles County Sheriff’s detectives are awaiting ballistic testing to determine whether a man who was carrying a rifle when he was arrested by investigators seeking a burglary suspect is connected to a series of shootings in the Malibu Creek State Park area that left a scientist dead.

Authorities arrested Anthony Rauda, 42, Wednesday. They are investigating whether he is responsible for a string of burglaries in the area over the last three months and several others dating to 2016.

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Officials are testing the weapon Rauda had when he was arrested to determine if it is linked to a string of shootings in and around the park that have sparked widespread fear in the area.

Nicole Nishida, a department spokeswoman, said those results could come within a few days or a couple of weeks.

One of the shootings claimed the life of Tristan Beaudette, a research scientist from Irvine who was camping with his two young daughters.

A law enforcement source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the rifle recovered was capable of firing the round that killed Beaudette but stressed that no firm ballistic link had been made.

The June 22 slaying has baffled investigators. At first, it seemed like an isolated incident. But then officials acknowledged they knew of at least seven other shooting reports in the same rustic area in the last two years.

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.

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

Rauda was booked on suspicion of violating parole and is being held without bail.

Authorities say they are trying to determine whether he was involved in a string of break-ins in Calabasas and Malibu. The latest such event occurred in the early morning hours Tuesday, when a man smashed the front glass door of the Agoura-Calabasas Community Center, according to the Sheriff’s Department. A vending machine inside was broken, with food items missing.

All of the burglaries occurred between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m., and in each incident, food was stolen.

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