California forester shot dead while patrolling Campbell Timberland Management land near Fort Bragg in search of squatter growing marijuana

LOS ANGELES , August 29, 2011 () – A veteran California city councilman and forester who worked as a caretaker for Campbell Timberland Management LLC was shot dead Saturday morning while searching for a squatter supposedly growing marijuana, The Sacramento Bee reported on Aug. 29.

Sheriff’s officials said Jere Melo, 69, a former Fort Bragg mayor and a city councilor since 1996, was killed while he and a colleague were patrolling some private timberland east of Fort Bragg. The other man escaped unharmed.

Fort Bragg Mayor Dave Turner said Melo worked as a caretaker for Campbell Timberland Management, which manages 150,000 acres of forests in a 40-mile stretch between Fort Bragg and Leggett.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office identified Aaron Bassler, whom they describe as a transient, as a suspect. He was still at large Sunday night and officials said he should be considered armed and dangerous, The SacBee reported.

Melo attended University of California Davis, and got a forestry degree from UC Berkeley.

According to Turner, one of the projects Melo was working on was a proposal to turn a shuttered Georgia-Pacific LLC lumber mill into a biomass plant that would convert timber waste into electricity.

Campbell Timberland Management LLC is a unit of The Campbell Group, a timberland investment management organization, which manages more than three million acres of private U.S. timberland.

The primary source of this article is The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, California, Aug. 29, 2011.

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