Mysterious shootings have shocked an outpost of LA better known for its idyllic lifestyle

One November two years ago, a wildlife biologist named James Rogers was spending the night in a hammock above Malibu when he awoke to a burning sensation in his arm and the realization that hed been peppered with buckshot.

He was in a park about 200 yards (182 meters) off the main road that leads from Malibus fabled beaches up into the hills of Calabasas, a place frequented day in and day out by tourists, day trippers, and avid hikers like himself.

Six days later, a man sleeping in his car in nearby Malibu Creek state park reported being shot at, too, although he was unharmed. Two months after that, it was a couple, also in the state park, whose vehicle was hit by gunfire.

Remarkably, these incidents caused little stir. Residents of the local canyons everyone from Hollywood A-listers such as Will Smith to more modestly affluent denizens might have been thrown into a panic if they had known. But the incidents went largely unreported, and the police were in no hurry to ascribe them to a single perpetrator.

Still, the random shootings continued. In June 2017, a motorist reported his car being hit by a bullet on the main mountain road. A month later, another camper was shot at in Malibu Creek state park. I came very very close to being hit, the camper, Meliss Tatangelo, later reported in a Facebook post. When the police came they told me, Things like this dont happen here.

Except they kept happening anyway. And, in June, they led to an actual murder, under the most horrifying of circumstances. Tristan Beaudette was camping with his two daughters, aged two and four, when he was shot in the head in his tent shortly before dawn. Beaudettes widow, who was home studying at the time, called his death a senseless act.

Tristan
Tristan Beaudette who was camping with his family.

Local community activists began to piece together accounts of previous shootings including one just a few days before Beaudettes and immediately suspected they were dealing with a serial attacker. I think theres a sicko out there, read one opinion circulated widely by the editor of a local online newsletter.

Two months later, whoever is responsible assuming it is just one person is still at large, and local police and communities are finding they have a lot of explaining to do. The Malibu Creek campground has been closed indefinitely. A local private school run by the wife of the film director James Cameron and claiming to be Americas first solar-powered, all-vegan educational establishment has installed a bank of new security cameras.

Meanwhile, amateur sleuths and reporters have been working overtime to parade their latest theory or tidbit from law enforcement sources. Sometimes, the shooter has been an expert marksman lurking hundreds of yards away from his targets; other times hes fired at close range. Some speculate hes connected to drug gangs who are known to grow marijuana in remote parts of the mountains. Others wonder if the shooter didnt also murder a young psychology student who disappeared in 2009.

The police themselves have remained largely tight-lipped, saying they dont want to give away anything that might help the perpetrator elude capture. There is some evidence they did not see a possible pattern between the shootings until Beaudettes death and are now racing to make up for lost time.

Granted, this is largely uncharted territory in a remote outpost of greater Los Angeles best known for its jaw-dropping beauty, its hillside mansions used variously for A-list parties, rehab and porn shoots. The local police blotter is largely characterized by traffic snarl-up on the coastal highway and an occasional drug overdose.

But the slowness of the official response may also be due, in part, to the competing jurisdictions in the area, encompassing everyone from state park rangers to the Malibu city police and the county sheriffs department, which is now taking the lead.

Local officials and police representatives held a public meeting last weekend to try to calm residents nerves, but it turned out they had little to say. The results of Beaudettes autopsy are being withheld for investigative reasons, they said. There is no confirmation of a connection between any of the incidents yet. And they offered no description of a suspect, much less a composite sketch.

Residents were there for answers and they got none, Cece Woods, the editor in chief of the Voices of Malibu website, reported from the scene. She described the police and other officials as being in pose and pacify mode.

And the shootings have not stopped. Police have responded to five separate incidents in the area since Beaudettes death, none of them involving injuries and at least one characterized as road rage. A rag bag of local interests everyone from local cities to the drug company Allergan, which employed Beaudette as a research scientist have contributed to a $35,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

And the hunt continues.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/22/malibu-fears-serial-attacker-random-shootings-los-angeles

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