Man vandalizes homes with a pickaxe, leaves families terrorized

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Several homes on Tuna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway were vandalized last week. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Several residents along Pacific Coast Highway and Tuna Canyon Road were vandalized by a man with a pickaxe during the Fourth of July weekend. The man, later identified as 55-year-old Thomas Aaron Brothers, was taken into custody four days later in Santa Monica around 11:30 a.m. Friday and faces vandalism charges. 

The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department was able to identify Brothers on one of the home security cameras, swinging the pickaxe towards residents’ doors and vehicles. Residents say he’s been seen on camera at least three nights in the past week. 

Capt. Jennifer Seetoo said the Malibu/Lost Hills detectives immediately started to work the case and were able to identify the suspect. Seetoo said if the community encounters the suspect, to call law enforcement.

Lt. Chad Watters provided an update on the suspect during the Public Safety Commission meeting on Wednesday, two days after the incident and confirmed it was a homeless individual. He said they had deputies looking for him on Wednesday. 

“We know where his encampment is, we’re waiting for him to come back, we will have him in custody hopefully in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Watters said. 

Watters said they posted the wanted flyer on social media with the suspect’s photo and were able to identify the suspect with the victim’s home security footage. 

“They gave us some really good footage, which was able to assist us and identify him,” Watters said.

Tuna Canyon resident Lloyd Ahern said the incident left them terrorized and said it was scarier than it looked. 

“He could’ve gone in the house and killed someone,” Ahern said. 

Ahern added that Tuna Canyon was the best spot to hike, but it’s not so much anymore. 

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Several homes on Tuna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway were vandalized last week. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

“The thing about it is — nobody is surprised, but we’re still surprised,” Ahern said. “We’ve had enough incidents over the years, it used to be ‘live and let live,’ with the homeless in the canyon, we would walk through the canyon on hikes, they would just look at us and smile or ignore us, but then they got a little more violent. You don’t go up there anymore; nobody goes hiking there anymore. It used to be a very favorite spot to hike, but now you don’t go up there because you know something is going to happen.” 

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Several homes on Tuna Canyon Road and Pacific Coast Highway were vandalized last week. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT.

Ahern also recalled the incident that occurred earlier this year on Feb. 27 near Coastline Drive, where a man was detained for being armed with a machete. The Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department closed the Pacific Coast Highway at Coastline Drive for nearly four hours after the suspect was taken into custody. No injuries were reported.

As for how the suspect was able to obtain a pickaxe, Ahern also reminded anyone who drives construction trucks to lock up and protect their equipment. 

“I said lock that up because every homeless person who walks by, they just reach in and steal things,” Ahern said. “If you leave your door open on Pacific Coast Highway, guys will be driving by and if they see a car door open, they’ll pull over really fast, and they’ll steal it.”

Ahern said Ring cameras with audio are helpful and suggests more residents to consider adding them to their homes for safety.

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A man is shown attacking a front door with a pickaxe in this screenshot from a security camera. The man, later identified as 55-year-old Thomas Aaron Brothers, was eventually taken into custody. Photo screenshot courtesy of KTLA

“You could never describe the look on that guy’s face, if you didn’t have that video,” Ahern said. “The other thing too is to make sure you get a recording device on it.”

Ahern also spoke during the Public Safety Commission meeting and said the incident left families terrorized. 

“We had a not very safe Fourth of July weekend,” Ahern said. “We had a person come out of the canyon — we think out of the canyon — and come with an ax to at least seven of our houses over both the night of the third and fourth … it’s a lot scarier than it looks, we’re all scared.”

Watters said the Metropolitan Transportation Authority receives alerts to look for suspicious activity.

“We actually know exactly what time the suspect from the pickaxe and what day he gets on the bus, gets off the bus, where he goes — we know everything about him,” Watters said. 

Public Safety Director Susan Dueñas said the department met with the residents and the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department to address their concerns.