Former Mayor of Fort Bragg, Jere Melo, Shot Near Pot Garden
Jere Melo, former Mayor of Fort Bragg and a City Council Member currently, was shot around 10:30 am yesterday. Apparently, he and at least one other forester (Melo worked for the Georgia Pacific Lumber Co.) were inspecting property in the rugged hills near the Skunk Train tracks near Northspur when Melo was shot, according to the Press Democrat, by a guard protecting a pot garden.
Dramatically, the Skunk Train passengers heard the sound of the gunfire. The other forester with Melo managed to escape the gunman and flag down the “speeder” ( a piece of fire patrol equipment that follows the train at a distance.) Another witness also escaped and notified law enforcement via cell phone. The passengers were evacuated off the train and it was apparently used to shuttle heavily armed law enforcement to the area (including a swat team) where they began looking for Melo and for his assailant, Aaron Bassler a transient from Fort Bragg, CA. A reverse 911 call was sent to residents in the area warning them to stay indoors and be on the lookout for an armed man dressed all in black between Northspur and Sherwood road.
Various reports have Melo still missing and others have him critically injured.
UPDATE 9:30am: Skunk Train will not operate today as “the investigation continues.” Apparently, the shooter has not been found.
UPDATE 10am: Humboldt Co. Supervisor Mark Lovelace just announced, “Melo is still missing and his condition is unknown. The sheriff’s SWAT team has been sent to the area to search for Melo and for the suspected shooter, identified as Aaron Bassler from Fort Bragg.” (Mark added to the comments that his information is not from official sources.)
UPDATE 12pm: The people living in the reverse 911 area have NOT been given the all clear. Apparently, law enforcement is still searching for the suspect. Also, Calstar medical took “EMERGENCY SCENE FLIGHT IN MENDOCINO COUNTY” about midnight. Speculation that it may be tied to this incident.
Image from Melo’s campaign information on a League of Women Voter’s site