More than a dozen Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies combed Malibu Canyon for hours with the aid of three helicopters after a park worker reported talking to a man who fit the description of a rifle-toting burglar spotted in the area last Sunday.
Bloodhounds were brought in Saturday to search the canyon south of the Malibu Creel State Park campgrounds, where 35-year-old Irvine resident Tristan Beaudette was shot to death in his tent June 22 while camping with his two daughters.
Sheriff’s Enforcement Bureau deputies used a helicopter to ferry more than a dozen crates of surveillance gear and other tactical items for a search that ended when it became too dark to safely continue, Deputy Dangelo Robinson said.
Dozens of squad cars were spotted in the canyon between Calabasas and Malibu by a reporter from KBUU radio.
Sheriff’s deputies kept hikers out of an area along the creek, south of Piyuma.
“I’m trying to preserve a crime scene, we’re bringing in bloodhounds,” a deputy said.
Deputies have said the burglary suspect has not been connected to the shooting, but they are considering it a possibility.
“We haven’t linked it (to Beaudette’s killing), but we certainly haven’t ruled it out,” Sgt. Matthew Dunn of the Malibu/Lost Hills sheriff’s station said.
The suspect might be a transient living in the park, Dunn said.
More than a dozen hikers remained in the recreation area near old movie sets in Malibu Canyon Road at Mulholland Highway.
Hikers expressed surprise when they found out a manhunt was happening and that low-flying helicopters they had seen were searching for an armed burglar.
Last Sunday, a commercial structure north of the park was burglarized, and surveillance video showed a man wearing what deputies called “tactical gear” and carrying a rifle.
The armed man stole food, deputies told NBC4.
The man also was suspected of burglarizing the Calabasas water treatment plant at least once and another commercial building near Mulholland Highway and Las Virgenes Road, Dunn said.
On Tuesday, there was a large manhunt in the canyon for that suspect, but he was not found. Tuesday night, some residents reported hearing gunfire.
Dunn said Sunday a maintenance worker at the Tapia Park area about a mile south of the campground “encountered a person who matched the description of the armed commercial burglar.”
Dunn said the man asked the park worker for a ride out of the canyon, “because he said there were so many police in the area.”
The maintenance worker left and called deputies.
By 4 p.m., three helicopters were in the area, along with dozens of deputies, working from a command post at King Gillette ranch at Mulholland Highway and Malibu Canyon Road.