Talk of a madman with a gun roaming near Malibu Creek State Park started just hours following the June 2018 shooting death of camper Tristan Beaudette.
Most people dismissed the notion of a rogue killer on the loose as panicked paranoia, a story out of a bad Hollywood horror flick.
But little by little—as more locals came forward with disturbing stories of being shot at by an unknown figure while in the vicinity of the park—the theory started to seem plausible. It was, in fact, deadly accurate.
On Monday the Los Angeles district attorney’s office charged 42-year-old Anthony Rauda with the murder of Beaudette and the attempted murder of 10 others, including Beaudette’s two young daughters who were with him in a tent at the time of his death.
According to prosecutors, Rauda had a penchant for firing shots at unsuspecting victims, beginning with a November 2016 attack on a man who was sleeping in a hammock and later a woman who was lying in a truck.
Rauda, a former convict, is said to have spent the last few years living off the grid in and around the state park, burglarizing Malibu-Calabasas area businesses and public buildings for food to survive.
At some point, the D.A. says, the man turned violent, using a shotgun and then a rifle to shoot at subjects who may have crossed his path. In each case no words were exchanged, just shots fired.
Somehow this all occurred with nary a warning from government or law enforcement officials. No news conference. No public information campaign. No word that an unknown subject was playing target practice with human beings in the local mountains, even as thousands of visitors descended on the recreation area each day.
The idea that, prior to Beaudette’s June murder, officials failed to call upon locals to be vigilant, to keep an eye out, to “see something, say something,” is difficult to grasp. It can mean only one of two things:
A) The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, California State Parks and National Park Service failed to connect the dots even after receiving multiple reports of gunfire over an extended period of time in a small area.
B) Law enforcement did have knowledge that an unstable person with a gun was on the prowl, but decided against warning the public until they had more concrete information. Local cops are known to downplay crime in the area because it might reflect negatively on the job they perform and the cities in which we live.
Somebody must have spotted the shooter with his weapon between November 2016 and the night Tristan Beaudette was killed some two years later. Maybe if they knew police were after such a person they might have reached out to law enforcement with valuable information. Maybe Rauda would have already been in custody. Maybe Beaudette would have had second thoughts about camping at Malibu Creek with his two young daughters. Thankfully they survived.