After several hours scouring Malibu Canyon for a burglary suspect, Los Angeles County sheriff’s investigators spotted fresh boot prints in the dirt.
Crews followed the steps about 50 yards to a steep ravine about a mile north of the Mulholland Highway, where they heard rustling in the brush. Moments later, they saw a man in black, armed with a rifle, walking quickly.
After a tense standoff, the man dropped the weapon and surrendered.
Authorities believe Anthony Rauda, 42, may be linked to a string of burglaries in the area over the last three months, and several others dating to 2016, Sheriff Jim McDonnell said at a news conference Wednesday evening.
Rauda, who has a history of weapons violations and burglaries, was booked on suspicion of violating parole and is being held without bail, McDonnell said.
“Much of that region of the Southland has been on pins and needles since we learned about these series of burglaries,” said state Sen. Henry Stern (D-Canoga Park). “I think that residents in the community can rest a bit easier tonight knowing that someone has been apprehended.”
But the community has been far more concerned with a series of shootings in Malibu Creek State Park, including one that claimed the life of Tristan Beaudette, a research scientist from Irvine who was camping with his two young daughters.
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. Beaudette was the first to die, but another man was wounded by buckshot.
It’s unclear whether Rauda had a role in the shootings, but authorities have not ruled it out.
“We’re not going to say … ‘Yes, he is’ or … ‘No, he’s not,’ ” McDonnell said, adding that investigators were going to perform ballistics tests. “We don’t have that information yet.”
The most recent of eight break-ins in Calabasas and Malibu 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.
The announcement of the arrest comes a day before retired Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva, who is running to unseat McDonnell as sheriff in November, is scheduled to hold a news conference of his own about the rise of violent crime in Malibu.