Hunt Goes On For Calif. Shooting Suspect

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FORT BRAGG, Calif., Sept. 5 (UPI) — Police combed an area east of Fort Bragg, Calif., after sheriff’s deputies reported spotting a man suspected of killing a city councilman, authorities said.

Aaron Bassler, accused of shooting and killing Councilman Jere Melo after Melo stumbled upon an opium poppy field east of the city, was spotted near his mother’s home Sunday, triggering an ongoing manhunt, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.

Bassler’ father said his son, 35, may have been trying to reach the home only to be scared off.

“He would have nowhere else to go,” James Bassler said.

Bassler said he believes his son has suffered for years from an undiagnosed mental illness, and has offered to negotiate a capture if the authorities locate him.

“We’re all just hoping that this will come to a peaceful ending,” James Bassler said Sunday. “We sure were thinking they were close, thinking something was going to happen today.”

Although a search failed to find Bassler, police said he could still be in the area.

“I’ve no reason to believe he’s not still here,” Fort Bragg police Capt. Kurt Smallcomb said.

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