Fort Bragg City Councilman and former Mayor Jere Melo was shot to death on Saturday as he walked on the private land of the timber company where he was employed.

According to witness testimony, the Melo and another man were walking when they came upon the campsite of a county transient, who was apparently growing various drugs. One man escaped, who called for help. The ensuing search found Melo’s body near the campsite.

The city manager says that Melo was a “pillar” of the community, and that his violent death came as a shock to all of the city management and employees.

From the Press Democrat:

Mendocino County sheriff’s officials Sunday said a Fort Bragg area transient was the main suspect being sought in the murder of City Councilman Jere Melo.

Suspect Aaron Bassler remained at large and “was last seen with a firearm. He should be considered armed and dangerous,” sheriff’s officials said in a statement.

Fort Bragg City Manager Linda Ruffing Sunday said city employees and officials were devastated to learn about Melo’s violent death.

Read the full article here.