3 unsolved shootings in Malibu Creek State Park area reported in year before father was killed in campground
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday it is reviewing three unsolved shootings in the area of Malibu Creek State Park following the fatal shooting of a father inside his tent while camping with his young daughters.
Few details were available about the earlier shootings, including whether people were injured. Those incidents were in addition to two shootings The Times reported Monday.
Tristan Beaudette, a scientist who worked in pharmaceuticals, was camping at the state park in Calabasas just off Las Virgenes Road on Friday when he was fatally shot before dawn inside his tent, where he was sleeping with his 2- and 4-year-old daughters.
Nicole Nishida, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, said the three other shootings “occurred nearby within the sheriff’s jurisdiction.” Nishida said the shootings happened June 6, 2017; July 22, 2017; and June 18, 2018.
Nishida provided the numbers to The Times after the newspaper published two accounts — from 2016 and January 2017 — of shootings that targeted campers. In one of those shootings, a young man sleeping in his hammock in nearby Tapia Park was shot with a shotgun and wounded.
“Detectives will also be working with officials from the California State Parks Department to compare any similar shooting incidents, which have occurred within Malibu Creek State Park, which is with the jurisdiction of the State Parks Department,” Nishida said.
Nishida said she could not say how many shooting reports have been made in the area as some could have been handled by state rangers inside the park’s boundaries.
A state parks spokeswoman on Monday said the department could not provide any numbers on prior shootings and it had turned over whatever information the agency had to homicide detectives.
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 indefinitely closed since Friday’s shooting.
“The safety of park visitors is our top priority,” state parks officials said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the victim and his family during this difficult time.”
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 many 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 shooting investigation. 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.
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 about 20 feet away and if the line of fire had been an inch higher, she would have been struck as she slept.
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 from the area and found Beaudette bleeding. He died before he could be taken to a hospital.
Deputies with K-9s scoured the campground and surrounding trails for clues.
In a statement, Nishida added, “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.”
The Beaudette family said it was trying to come to terms with their loss. The couple had been preparing to move to Northern California. A GoFundMe account has raised more than $100,000 for the family.
“We are heartbroken by the loss of our beloved friend, husband, and father, Tristan Beaudette, whose life was tragically cut short by a senseless act of gun violence while on a camping trip with his two young daughters. The grief and trauma this loss has caused our close-knit family is indescribable,” the family said in a statement.
Start your day right
Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.