LOS ANGELES (AP) — An ex-convict has been charged with killing a father who was camping with his daughters in a Southern California park and trying to kill the girls and eight others in a series of shootings over two years, prosecutors said Monday.
Anthony Rauda, 42, was charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with one count of murder, 10 counts of attempted murder and five counts of burglary in a rash of break-ins and shootings targeting campers and drivers that stirred fear near a popular state park outside Los Angeles.
Rauda is accused of shooting Tristan Beaudette in the head while the 35-year-old father camped in a tent with his young daughters on June 18 in Malibu Creek State Park. The girls, ages 2 and 4, were not injured but are considered victims of attempted murder and listed in a criminal complaint as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2.
The park 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of downtown LA was closed temporarily after the slaying. Much of the park, which has served as a filming location for movies and TV shows such as “M.A.S.H.,” was charred in recent wildfires.
Fear spread when authorities acknowledged after the killing that several shootings had occurred in the area, but they were not previously thought to be related. Other victims then came forward to report they had been shot at in the park or driving past it.
Rauda was arrested in October in a ravine near the park dressed in black and carrying a rifle in his backpack. Officers had been searching on foot and by helicopter for an armed burglar who had broken into businesses and homes and stolen food.
Rauda was on probation at the time of his arrest, according to Luis Patino of the Department of Corrections. Rauda was first sent to state prison in 2006 for possessing explosives, Patino said. He was sent back in 2014 for being a felon with a loaded gun.
After his arrest in October, Rauda was sentenced to nearly a year in jail for violating probation and illegally having a gun and ammunition, said Shiara Davila-Morales of the district attorney’s office.
But the investigation remained open as authorities looked into whether he was connected to the shootings that seemed to target people at random. The shootings date to November 2016, when a wildlife biologist was struck in the arm while sleeping in a hammock near the park.
Rauda is now charged in the hammock shooting that wounded James Rogers and in opening fire days later on someone sleeping in a car. He is accused of shooting at three other cars in 2017.
Four days before Beaudette was killed, Rauda shot at a Tesla near the park, prosecutors said.
He was brought into court in a wheelchair Monday, but his arraignment was postponed until Jan. 22. At a previous court appearance, he wore a mesh hood to prevent him from spitting or biting.
A public defender representing Rauda didn’t immediately return phone and email messages seeking comment.
If convicted, Rauda faces up to life in prison.