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Why Helicopters And Bloodhounds Swarmed Malibu Creek State Park This Weekend

The campground is quiet on a Monday morning, but park rangers say day trip numbers haven't suffered from the murder in June. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)
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The fatal shooting of a 35-year-old father, Tristan Beaudette, as he slept in his tent with his two young daughters in June, put Malibu Creek State Park in the spotlight. Since then, the campground has been closed, and sheriff's deputies have been searching for his killer -- without much luck.

This weekend, however, helicopters and bloodhounds were used to search the area for a burglary suspect who's been on the run for a week. Deputies aren't saying if he could be linked to Beaudette's homicide -- but they aren't ruling it out.

The burglary happened the Sunday before at a commercial building north of the park. Surveillance footage showed a man carrying a rifle and wearing what deputies called tactical gear. They said he stole food.

A park worker said he spoke to a man matching the description from the footage, so deputies began a manhunt in the park. The man wasn't found.

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Then this Saturday, a maintenance worker at Tapia Park, about a mile south of Malibu Creek State Park, told deputies that he talked to someone who also matched the surveillance footage. That man said he needed a ride out of Malibu Canyon because there were so many police officers in the area.

So a second manhunt started later that afternoon, with deputies bringing in three helicopters and bloodhounds, plus more than a dozen officers. The search was called off after dark for safety.

Over the last two years there have been a number of shootings in the area. But officers have not been able to find the gunman -- or link the incidents together.

Park rangers say the campground has remained closed largely because of a homicide in June. (Photo by Caleigh Wells/LAist)

While the campground is closed, hikers, cyclists and fishers are still coming to the park for day trips. Park rangers say the numbers are about as high as they were before the homicide in June.

This weekend's news hasn't stopped people like Priscila Echenique. She and her family are avid fishers, and they'd heard about the park online. So they picked Columbus Day to take the kids out of school and make the drive from Pasadena. She said she'd heard about the killing but didn't realize this park was the scene of the crime.

"To tell you the truth I didn't know it was here," she said. "I knew it was a murder somewhere around but not here."

But even after she'd heard about the burglary, she said it wouldn't stop her from coming.

"No, I don't think so," she laughed. "I have my husband."

The sheriff's department said Monday that it won't be doing another search until there's more information. But it's hoping for a tip from the public through Crime Stoppers.

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