After Tristan Beaudette was shot while camping with his kids in Malibu Creek State Park, authorities are probing previous reports of gunfire in the area

By Christine Pelisek
June 29, 2018 09:55 AM
Credit: GofundMe

After a California father was fatally shot in a tent while camping with his two young children in picturesque Malibu Creek State Park last week, authorities are investigating seven unsolved reports of gunfire in the area over the previous two years.

Tristan Beaudette, a 35-year-old scientist, died from a gunshot wound to the head on June 22 while camping with his daughters, 2 and 4, who were not injured. It remains unclear whether the shooting was random or whether Beaudette was targeted. No suspects have been named.

“The motive is unknown,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Lt. Rodney Moore tells PEOPLE. “Right now there are a lot of unknowns.”

There have been reports of at least three additional unsolved gunfire incidents in the vicinity of the park since last June, authorities say, with four additional shootings dating back to November 2016. But investigators have not determined if they are linked to the killing of Beaudette, and so far “there is no evidence to suggest they are.”

“However, as part of our investigation we are exploring those possibilities,” says Lt. Moore. “As of right now it is unknown if they are linked or not.”

The L.A. County sheriff is investigating three previous shootings that occurred outside of the park on June 6, 2017, July 22, 2017, and June 18, 2018 — a few weeks ago — spokeswoman Nicole Nishida tells PEOPLE.

No one was injured in those incidents, she says.

Cece Woods, the editor and owner of The Local Malibu, a local news website, says she recently heard about a man whose Tesla was allegedly hit by gunfire as he was driving near the park four days before Beaudette was killed.

It’s not clear if the alleged shooting of the Tesla on June 18 and the reported shooting on June 18 are the same incident.

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Tristan Beaudette (right) and his family
| Credit: GofundMe

Four other gunfire incidents have been reported in the area of the park since 2016, including one that injured a man. Those are under the jurisdiction of the California State Parks Department, which patrols the park.

In one of those shootings, The Los Angeles Times reported that James Rogers had been hiking the backbone trail on Nov. 3, 2016 and was sleeping overnight in a hammock in Tapia Park, just south of Malibu Creek State Park, when he was struck in the right arm by birdshot from a shotgun.

“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.”

Rogers said he suspects he was “shot at close range.”

Another camper said she heard gunfire in January 2017.

In a Facebook post, Meliss Tatangelo wrote that she and her boyfriend were camping in her car when she heard a “very loud noise” around 5 a.m. She said she found a bullet inside her car.

“Turns out it was a shotgun fired from maybe 20 [feet] away, if not closer,” she wrote. “If the bullet was fired even an inch higher, it would have hit me.”

Nishida, the sheriff’s spokeswoman, says investigators are working with the California State Parks Department to compare any “similar shooting incidents” that have occurred in the area.

The parks department said they have provided the sheriff’s department with “all reports from 2016 to present, regarding the illegal discharge of weapons at Malibu Creek State Park.”

Park spokeswoman Gloria Sandoval tells PEOPLE that no other homicides have occurred in the state park in the last two years.

In an online fundraiser set up by his family, Beaudette was remembered as “an amazing father, husband, son, and brother.”

“Tristan was out doing something he adored in life, being in the outdoors with his two young girls,” a post on the fundraiser reads, adding, This was their final step before taking well-deserved time off together as a family prior to their relocation to new jobs in the Bay Area. They were about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. And then it was all taken away, by a fatal gun shot in the middle of the night, in front of his two young daughters.”