A tactical team from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department searched the hills near Malibu Creek State Park Tuesday morning for an armed burglar who detectives want to question about the murder of a camper in June.
Deputies rode on four-wheel-drive utility vehicles into the hills covered in deep brush, north of Mulholland Highway, in an area less than a quarter-mile from the state park.
They said they were searching for a masked burglar who broke into an office nearby early Sunday morning and stole food, the Sheriff’s Department said.
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"A video system at the location showed one person who was carrying a rifle," the Department said. "The suspect pried open a window to enter the location."
The break-in was similar to several others at outbuildings on properties with large homes and businesses in the area, and investigators not authorized to discuss the case publicly told NBC4 they believed the burglar could be living in the wilderness area nearby to avoid detection by residents or law enforcement. It appears the burglar did not target actual residences.
"It should be noted there have been four or five reported burglaries of unoccupied offices and other buildings at night in the general area in the past two years," the Department said. "It is unknown if those burglaries are related to this incident, but there are some similarities."
One resident says deputies told her the burglar was spotted wearing a mask or hood and wearing what was described as 'tactical-style' clothing.
Law enforcement officials said it was far too soon to know if there was a link between the burglar and the murder of Tristan Beaudette, who was shot to death while camping with his two young daughters.
The Sheriff's Department said it’s also investigating whether that murder is connected with several other shooting incidents reported in the same area, including one in which a hiker was injured.
Residents told NBC4 Tuesday another shooting was reported to the Sheriff's Department Thursday night close to the search area. A number of people said they heard four shots around 9:00 p.m. and Sheriff's helicopter was sent to check the area.
No arrests have been made.
The search was done about four months after the murder. A reward for information on the killing was offered in July.
Sheriff's detectives again appealed for the public's assistance in solving the murder, shootings, and break-ins. Anyone with information was asked to call the Malibu-Lost Hills Sheriff's Station detective bureau of (818) 878-1808.