LOS ANGELES (AP) — Investigators will use ballistic testing to determine if a rifle carried by a burglary suspect was used in the killing of a camper as he slept and his daughters slept in a tent at a wilderness park in California, authorities said Thursday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Anthony Rauda, 42, had the gun and was dressed in black when he was arrested Wednesday while authorities searched the rugged canyon area several miles north of Malibu, where a number of movie stars own coastal homes.
The search involving helicopters was prompted by at least eight burglaries in the area over the past two years in which food was stolen from buildings.
The sheriff said Rauda is a suspect in the burglaries but had not yet been charged and was being held on suspicion of a parole violation.
It was unclear if he had an attorney. His arraignment was expected Friday.
The burglary investigation intensified after an Oct. 4 theft in which a person wearing a mask and armed with a rifle was seen on surveillance video.
Five days later, someone used a rock to smash a glass door at a community center and stole food from a vending machine.
Deputies searched the canyon Wednesday and spotted fresh boot prints leading to a steep ravine. A short time later, searchers heard movement in the brush and saw a man walking quickly. He surrendered when they stopped him, McDonnell said.
Rauda has a criminal history for burglary and weapons violations, McDonnell said at a news conference.
“I don’t know if he was living in the brush or if there was housing out there,” the sheriff said.
Detectives want to determine if the rifle Rauda carried during the arrest was used in the June killing of Tristan Beaudette, 35, in a tent at Malibu Creek State Park. Authorities said there have been seven other shootings in and around the park dating back to 2016.
James Rogers, a wildlife biologist, told the Los Angeles Times that he was shot in November 2016 while sleeping in a hammock south of the park and needed surgery to remove shotgun pellets from his arm.
Malibu Creek State Park covers more than 12 square miles (30 square kilometers) in the Santa Monica Mountains west of Los Angeles. It offers camping, hiking and rock climbing and has served as a location for movies and TV shows, such as “M.A.S.H.”