Officials in Fort Bragg, Calif. are conducting a sweeping manhunt for the person who gunned down respected City Councilman Jere Melo after he discovered a marijuana field growing on the outskirts of the town.

Melo and a coworker were searching the forested area near the Noyo River, acting on a tip that there was a marijuana field, when Melo was shot down, The Associated Press reported. Melo's co-worker fled the scene and called for help on his cell phone.

The town is now grappling with the death of a man who was serving his15th year on the city council and working as a private security contractor for a timber company.

Jere is probably the hardest-working councilman ever, Mayor Dave Turner said. He's a guy that gets along with everybody. He brought civility to the council.