National News

Scientist Fatally Shot While Camping With His Daughters

Posted June 25, 2018 6:36 p.m. EDT

A scientist was fatally shot Friday while camping with his two young daughters at Malibu Creek State Park in Southern California, officials said, in a case that has stunned his family and community.

As of Monday, authorities had no suspects or motive for the shooting, said Lt. Rodney Moore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The victim, 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, according to his LinkedIn profile, and worked at a large pharmaceutical company in Orange County.

“The grief and trauma this loss has caused our close-knit family is indescribable,” Beaudette’s family said in a statement. “A scientist who loved cooking and microbrews, Tristan was happiest out in nature and spent every chance he could hiking, biking, snowboarding and camping with his family.”

Another camper reported hearing shots fired in the state park about 4:45 a.m. Friday, authorities said.

When deputies arrived, they found Beaudette, who had been shot at least once in his upper torso, a police statement said. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His daughters were not injured, Moore said.

The autopsy report is pending, he added.

Moore said that there have been “several shootings” in the general area of Malibu Creek State Park in the past, none of which resulted in a fatality.

“There is no evidence to suggest that those past shootings are related to this shooting,” he said. Even so, he added, “it’s not something that’s been taken off the table.”

Pam Wu, who released the family statement on Sunday, said on Facebook that her husband, Scott McCurdy, was with “our two little boys” on the camping trip where Beaudette was killed.

They arrived Thursday, Wu’s Facebook post said. “The kids had their bikes and sand toys, were running around and probably making a ton of noise,” she wrote, urging those who might have information about the shooting to call the sheriff’s department. Rabbi Arnie Rachlis, the leader of the University Synagogue in Irvine, California, said the congregation was “shocked and traumatized” at the death of Beaudette, who is the second person in the congregation’s community to have been killed in the past six months. In January, the synagogue mourned the death of Blaze Bernstein, a college student whose body was found in an Orange County park.

Beaudette was a “loving family man,” Rachlis said, recalling how close Beaudette was with his two daughters, ages 2 and 4. “What I remember is the smile — the warm smile and the genuine pride in his kids.”

A GoFundMe account established by Beaudette’s family said that at the time of his death, he was doing what he loved: “Being in the outdoors with his two young girls.”

His wife, Erica Wu, was his high school sweetheart, the family’s statement said, and he was “a supportive and generous husband” whose “selfless devotion to his children came naturally.”

Wu did not go on the camping trip because she was preparing to take an exam the next morning, according to the GoFundMe tribute.

“This was their final step before taking well-deserved time off together as a family prior to their relocation to new jobs in the Bay Area,” the GoFundMe page said. “And then it was all taken away, by a fatal gun shot in the middle of the night, in front of his two young daughters.”