There's a manhunt straight out of the movies happening in the dense woodland around Fort Bragg, up in typically quiet Mendocino County. The other day we posted about a surveillance-camera sighting of murder suspect Aaron Bassler, and just yesterday authorities exchanged gunfire with Bassler, whom they spotted about a hundred yards away in the forest near the unincorporated town of Northspur. Bassler shot at the officers, who are Alameda County deputies, and then managed to escape deeper into the woods. It's sounding like he kind of doesn't want to be taken in alive!
Bassler, 35, is a mentally ill transient who's been known around the area for petty crimes for quite some time, and he had been holed up in the woods growing himself some opium poppies. Bassler is believed to be the man who shot and killed land manager Matthew Coleman on August 11, and Fort Bragg city councilman Jere Melo on August 27, each with a high-powered rifle. His father has said that he suffers from schizophrenia, though the Chron is now saying it's an "undisclosed mental illness." He also has survivalist skills and has been living off the land and evading detection for the last month.
Fingerprint evidence suggests that Bassler has broken into a few cabins and a home near Northspur, and stolen weapons from one of the homes. Authorities now believe they have him surrounded, Bassler's father says he hopes hopes it can end peacefully and "no one gets hurt." But, unfortunately, it's not looking that good as far as ending peacefully.