FORT BRAGG, Calif. – A man suspected in the fatal shootings of a Fort Bragg city councilman and a county land trust official was shot and killed Saturday after a massive manhunt in the redwood forests of Northern California.
Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman said Aaron Bassler was shot seven times some 6 miles east of Fort Bragg after he was sniffed out in the forest by a bloodhound tracking a nearby burglary. Three members of Sacramento County’s SWAT team were in the trees above Bassler and when they saw him coming toward them on a timber trail, they shot him.
Bassler, 35, had been sought since Councilman Jere Melo and a second man separately confronted him while investigating reports of an illegal marijuana farm outside of town.
Police said Bassler was cultivating some 400 poppy plants and was holed up in a makeshift bunker when he fired on the 69-year-old Melo and a co-worker who escaped and called for help.
Bassler was also wanted in the fatal shooting of Matthew Coleman of the Mendocino County Land Trust. The former Fish and Game Department employee was found dead next to his car on Aug. 11 up the coast from Fort Bragg.