Fort Bragg, Calif., slaying suspect is killed in shootout

Oct 1 2011 - 10:29pm

LOS ANGELES -- Aaron Bassler, the suspect in two Fort Bragg killings in Northern California including that of a city councilman, was killed Saturday in a shootout with law enforcement officers after a monthlong manhunt, authorities say.

A SWAT team from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department encountered Bassler, 35, around midday and a shootout ensued, said spokesman Jason Ramos. No officers were injured.

Bassler was accused of killing 45-year-old Matthew Coleman, a land restoration worker, on Aug. 11 north of Fort Bragg. He also was accused of killing Jere Melo, 69, a Fort Bragg city councilman, in the hills east of town on Aug. 27.

Since Melo's death, a manhunt has been under way for Bassler, whose father said he is schizophrenic and deranged. Federal agents as well as law enforcement officers from around California have aided Mendocino County deputies in the search for Bassler.

Ramos said he did not know exactly where Bassler was shot, but said it was in the woods near Fort Bragg, in an area where authorities have been looking for Bassler.

A spokesperson for the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department declined to comment, saying more information would be made available later.

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