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California Pol Stumbles Onto Pot Farm, Gunned Down

Sheriff's Dept. seeks itinerant dope grower with criminal history
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2011 5:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – Northern California law officers are hunting a transient marijuana grower accused of gunning down a city councilman, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Mendocino County officials say that Fort Bragg councilman Jere Melo, working for a timber company, found suspect Aaron Bassler growing marijuana on company land. Bassler allegedly opened fire on Melo and a co-worker, killing Melo.

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Bassler has had other run-ins with area law enforcement. Earlier this year, officers Tased, pepper sprayed, and arrested him for crashing a truck into a middle school tennis court. Two years ago he faced charges for allegedly tossing packages into the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco. Melo, a Fort Bragg resident for 35 years, first became a councilman in 1996 and served as mayor from 2000 to 2004. "You can't turn anywhere in the city and not see what Jere's done for us," says Fort Bragg's current mayor. "We can't even fathom all the ways we're going to miss him." (Read more Mendocino stories.)

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