The victim, later identified as 35-year-old Tristan Beaudette, was shot in the upper torso, Los Angeles County sheriff's Lt. Rodney Moore told the Los Angeles Times Friday. He was camping with his two daughters, ages 2 and 4. The children were not hurt.
"The theory we are working with is he was shot inside the tent. The children were inside the tent, too," Moore explained. "We are working this as a homicide at this point. We are gathering evidence. ... It will take some time."
According to KTLA, deputies were called to the scene at around 4:44 a.m. Friday to respond to a report of shots fired.
Beaudette was a respected pharmaceuticals scientist. His family called him a "supportive and generous husband."
"His selfless devotion to his children came naturally, and Tristan found true joy in all aspects of being a father. The grief and trauma this loss has caused our close-knit family is indescribable," his family told the Times.
His family also set up a GoFundMe page, which has raised over $88,000 to help Beaudette's wife Erica and their children. According to the page, the family was enjoying some relaxing time before they planned to move to the Bay Area for new jobs.
"They were about to embark on a new chapter in their lives. 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," the family said. "Not a second goes by that we aren't grappling with the senselessness of this crime."
Police have not released information about a potential motive for the shooting or the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at 323-890-5500 or Crime Stoppers at 800-222-8477.
Malibu Creek State Park is located in Calabasas, four miles south of Highway 101. It is popular with hikers, and was also where scenes from MASH, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the original Planet of the Apes were filmed.
"You were admired by so many for your devotion to your wife and two daughters. We are all so fortunate to have known you for your short time on Earth," the family wrote on GoFundMe. "You were taken from us far too early, doing something you loved with the girls you adored. You will be so dearly missed. May you rest in peace."
Photo credit: GoFundMe