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Fort Bragg search for shooting suspect goes on

FORT BRAGG — The search continued Sunday in the woods east of Fort Bragg for Aaron Bassler, 35, who is wanted in connection with two homicides.

As many as 40 searchers combed an area stretching to Willits, including a spot near Bassler's mother's home where the suspect was seen a week ago.

But Bassler remained at large.

Update: Manhunt In Fort Bragg Continues

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"We're just continuing to follow up leads today and trying to safely apprehend Mr. Bassler," said Capt. Kurt Smallcomb of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

Smallcomb said he was tired. Dozens of deputies dressed in camouflage and carrying assault rifles have been scouring the rugged countryside for Bassler for two weeks.

Asked whether there have been any new sightings since last Sunday when deputies made contact, Smallcomb said they were not releasing that information. Deputies saw Bassler on Sept. 4 near his mother's home off Sherwood Road about two miles east of Fort Bragg.

Bassler is wanted in the slaying of Jere Melo, a longtime city councilman and forester, who was patrolling private timber lands when he was shot on Aug. 27.

Deputies also linked Bassler to the Aug. 11 slaying of Matthew Coleman, a manager with Mendocino Land Trust, who was shot while working near Rockport on an oceanfront ranch owned by the Save the Redwoods League.

On the windy, rural road where Bassler's mother lives, ranches sit on broad plots of land with towering redwoods and weathered picket fences. There was no sign of searchers along Sherwood Road Sunday morning, and a man casually trimmed a lawn with a tractor mower at a home near where Bassler was last reported.

Farther east, Sherwood Road narrowed through a thick forest of firs and oaks, and a steep ravine dropped hundreds of feet off the side of the road. Signs posted on trees and stumps read "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out."


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