Law enforcement officials called off a search for an armed burglar in Malibu Creek State Park on Saturday night after a park staff member tipped them off to a suspicious person seen there — setting off a massive search earlier.
While there's no clear evidence indicating so, authorities suspect there's a chance the burglar could be linked to the unsolved killing of an Irvine research scientist and father of two named Tristan Beaudette. He was fatally shot while inside a tent at the park with his 2- and 4-year-old daughters on June 22.
On Saturday, officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department responded to Tapia Park around 1 p.m. after being tipped off to a suspicious person.
Days earlier, on Sept. 30., authorities had gotten a call about an armed burglar in tactical gear who had broken into an office, officials said. Investigators believe he was looking for food.
But now authorities believe he could also be linked to other burglaries and even shootings in the area, including the slaying of Beaudette. Still, no solid connections have been made, sheriff's officials said.
As night grew closer, the dark conditions of the heavily wooded area made Saturday's search too difficult and dangerous to continue. So sheriff's officials called it off by 8 p.m.
"It's dangerous. It's too dark," said Captain Joshua Thai of the Sheriff's Department. "We're concerned for our safety as well."
"We do want to catch this person so we can make sure the community is safe," Thai said.
Earlier, law enforcement officials launched a massive manhunt in the area using aerial resources and people on the ground.
Since the deadly shooting in June, some have been deterred from visiting the popular camping spot.
"We actually used to hike here a lot," said Sierra Smith, who lives nearby. "We heard about that, and we haven't been back since."