Calif. Fugitive Hiding Out in Redwoods Fires on Cops

Aaron Bassler was running a poppy operation, say police
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser User
Posted Sep 30, 2011 4:09 AM CDT
Fugitive Aaron Bassler. Bassler, 35, is suspected of killing a city councilman last month and one other person several weeks before.   (AP Photo/Mendocino County Sheriff)
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(Newser) – A California fugitive who has been living on his wits in the Redwood forests of Northern California is close to being caught—and has fired on deputies, according to cops. Aaron Bassler, 35, is suspected of shooting to death a city councilman last month and another person earlier. Bassler has been hiding out in the forests near Fort Bragg, and has broken into several cabins seeking warmth and food, according to Mendocino County police. Bassler allegedly fired on cops with a high-powered assault rifle.

City Councilman Jere Melo, 69, was shot as he attempted to investigate reports of an illegal marijuana growing operation. He confronted Bassler, who was cultivating some 400 poppy plants in the woods, police believe. A worker from the local Fish and Game Department was found dead nearby earlier. Police have told local residents to stay out of the area. Bassler's father believes his son suffers from schizophrenia, and has talked about aliens and spaceships, reports AP. (Read more Fort Bragg stories.)

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