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Mendocino County Residents Relieved After SWAT Killing Of Fugitive

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Aaron Bassler

Aaron Bassler (Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office)

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FORT BRAGG (KCBS) – The community of Fort Bragg in Mendocino County is breathing easier after a 36-day manhunt came to an end with the death of a double-murder suspect.

The search for Aaron Bassler grew to include police officers from across California. It was finally three members of the Sacramento County SWAT team who shot and killed the 35-year-old suspect.

Bassler was accused of fatally shooting land-trust manager Matthew Coleman August 11 and Fort Bragg city councilman Jere Melo on August 27.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

“Part of dad’s job was he went out there in the woods and looked for marijuana grows,” said Greg Melo, Jere’s son. “The day that this happened, dad was looking for a marijuana grow.”

That’s when the older Melo encountered Bassler and was shot. Greg Melo said there is relief that the search for Bassler has finally ended.

“I felt that law enforcement officers gave him plenty of opportunity to turn himself in or surrender,” he said. “And he chose not to do that and unfortunately, he put officers in the position to do the only thing that they could and that was to neutralize the threat that he had created.”

Bassler’s family had said that he suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness that had been getting worse.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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