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Family of camper killed in Malibu Creek State Park files $90-million damage claims

The family of a man who was shot to death while camping at Malibu Creek State Park with his children filed claims for more than $90 million against the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and other state and local agencies, accusing them of failing to warn the public about several shootings in and around the area before the slaying.

Tristan Beaudette, 35, was killed in June, the target of a gunman who took random potshots at several others who camped near the popular hiking trails, prosecutors have said.

Anthony Rauda, 42, a vagrant who lived in the surrounding area, has been charged with one count of murder in the fatal shooting of Beaudette and 10 counts of attempted murder. Rauda was also charged in a series of burglaries of homes and offices nearby.

Claims for damages were filed last month on behalf of Beaudette’s widow, Erica Wu, and the couple’s 2- and 4-year-old daughters, who were camping with their father in a tent when he was shot. The girls were not injured.

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Authorities did not reveal the other shootings until after Beaudette’s death, following inquiries by the Times and other news media.

“The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, California State Park Police, Department of Parks and Recreation, and California State Parks and Recreation Commission have confirmed they were aware of at least seven unsolved shootings in Malibu Creek State Park,” the claims filed by attorney Victor George state.

The claims allege that deputies and state park officials “negligently failed to care and provide a safe space for Beaudette and his children, instead causing his death.”

Sheriff’s and parks officials did not respond to requests for comment.

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Rauda was arrested near Malibu last October in connection with a string of burglaries, but news that he was carrying a rifle at the time of his capture led to speculation that he might have been the gunman connected to the sporadic shootings. Forensic tests confirmed that the rifle he was arrested with was used in several of the shootings, said two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the case candidly.

Beaudette’s killing in June was the last in the series of attacks, and it left residents of the greater Malibu area unnerved and frustrated.

The attacks also became something of a political football, as Villanueva sharply criticized then-Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s handling of the case during the waning days of Villanueva’s 2018 election bid to oust the incumbent. Echoing concerns raised by some residents, Villanueva questioned why the Sheriff’s Department had not publicized the potentially related shootings earlier.

According to the criminal complaint, Rauda was linked to seven shootings between November 2016 and Beaudette’s death last year. The first took place Nov. 3, 2016, when James Rogers was shot in the arm as he was sleeping in Tapia Park, just south of Malibu Creek State Park.

Rauda is also accused of shooting at three cars in the area in 2017, and prosecutors have charged him with five counts of attempted murder in connection with those incidents, according to court records.

Prosecutors allege that Rauda also opened fired on a Tesla in June, just four days before Beaudette was killed. Rauda has been charged with two counts of attempted murder in connection with Beaudette’s death, as Beaudette’s young daughters were sleeping nearby.

Prosecutors also allege that Rauda broke into commercial buildings owned by the Las Virgenes Water District, Spectrum Building Development and the Agoura Hills/Calabasas Community Center five times between July and October, court records show.

Several law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Rauda was a “survivalist” who often slept outside in the Malibu area and other coastal sections. During the break-ins, he stole food and other items that would help foster his outdoor lifestyle, instead of valuables, the officials said.

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Rauda has a lengthy criminal record, including multiple convictions for illegal weapons possession in Los Angeles and Ventura counties, court records show. He previously lived in Florida and Texas, where he was convicted of assault, according to court records.

Times staff writers Matt Stiles and James Queally contributed to this report.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Twitter: @lacrimes


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