Investigators are conducting ballistics tests on the rifle of Anthony Rauda, a suspect in several burglaries, to determine if the gun was used in a fatal shooting that took place at a California state park, according to reports.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell said Rauda, 42, had the gun and was dressed in black when he was arrested Wednesday after authorities searched the rugged canyon area several miles north of Malibu, California.
Authorities are now investigating the potential role of his firearm in connection to the death of Tristan Beaudette, ABC 7 News reports.
Beaudette, 35, was shot in the head while sleeping inside a tent at Malibu Creek State Park with his two daughters, aged 2 and 4, during the early morning hours of June 23, as previously reported by Oxygen.com.
But Wednesday’s search was prompted by Rauda’s suspected involvement in at least eight burglaries in which food was pilfered from buildings.
“It is believed this suspect could be responsible for several similar burglaries occurring over the past two years,” McDonnell said in a statement posted to Facebook, adding that Rauda also had a history of weapons violations.
The investigation intensified after an Oct. 4 theft in which a person wearing a mask and armed with a rifle was seen on surveillance video.
Five days later, someone used a rock to smash a glass door at a community center and stole food from a vending machine.
Deputies searched the canyon and spotted fresh boot prints leading to a steep ravine. A short time later, searchers heard movement in the brush and saw a man walking quickly. He surrendered when they stopped him, McDonnell said.
Rauda has not been charged over the burglaries, and is currently being held on suspicion of parole violation. It was unclear if he had an attorney.
Authorities said there have been seven other shootings in and around the park dating back to 2016.
James Rogers, a wildlife biologist, told the Los Angeles Times that he was shot in November 2016 while sleeping in a hammock south of the park and needed surgery to remove shotgun pellets from his arm.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
[Photo: Los Angeles County Sheriff]