The search for Aaron Bassler, accused of two murders, ended when the fugitive was shot seven times and killed in a redwood forest outside Fort Bragg, Calif., Saturday.
Bassler, 35, exchanged gunfire with Alameda County deputies Thursday. Tracked by a bloodhound named Willow from the Pomona Police Department, together with his handler Officer Joe Hernandez, he found on a timber trail in the redwood forest. There he was shot by three members of the Sacramento County SWAT team hidden in trees, said Mendocino County Sherriff Thomas Allman.
According to Allman, there was no verbal exchange, but deputies smelled danger, when they saw the suspect seeming ready to fire while approaching them.
Any confrontation or contact with law enforcement agents was going to be lethal and deadly, Allman said, asserting that the shooting under such circumstances was permitted by law.
Allman was suspected of killing Jere Melo, a city councilman, in late August, and Matthew Coleman, a county land trust official, weeks ago.
According to Elizabeth McNeill, a clerk in an appliance store works in downtown Fort Bragg, people now can relax. I just hope Jere's wife can get some closure, McNeill said.
Posters declaring a $30,000 reward for the suspect can be seen all around in windows of shops. According to a owner of a clothing store, a celebration was organized on the street when news of the death of the suspect spread.
The search for Bassler started Aug.27, when Melo, who was investigating reports of an illegal marijuana farm with his associate, was killed. The associate managed to escape and call for help. Police then found a farm with 400 poppies.
Bassler’s survival skills and ability to dodging his pursuers for more than a month confounded officials. According to authorities, the suspect fed himself by breaking into several cabins in the forest.
Associated Press reported that Bassler's father, James Bassler said that Aaron suffered undiagnosed mental illness, but the father did nothing successfully to help his son.