Alleged Murderer Killed in Shootout With Police After Weeks-Long Manhunt in Calif.

PHOTO: Aaron Bassler mugshot
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A massive police manhunt for a schizophrenic man suspected in two fatal shootings ended with his death during a shootout with police in northern California this weekend.

Aaron Bassler, 35, was accused of killing Fort Bragg city councilman Jere Melo and a local conservationist in August.

On Thursday, Bassler engaged in two shootouts with a local SWAT team, but got away. No law enforcement officials were hit.

"Friday afternoon a new burglary was reported to us with Bassler's M.O. -- ammunition, alcohol, limited food supplies and so forth were taken," Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman told ABC News.

The burglary occurred 14 miles away from Thursday's shootings in the woods near Fort Bragg.

"When that information came in we moved our tactical teams and were setting up on areas where he has been known to traverse," Allman said. "[Saturday] at 12:23 p.m., three members of the Sacramento County Sheriff's office SWAT team were in position. One saw Bassler walking towards them quickly, wearing black clothing and carrying an assault rifle in his right hand."

The SWAT team members believed Bassler was ready to get in a shootout with them, the sheriff said.

"There was a round in the chamber and his rifle was not on safety. It was on fire," Allman said. "He was fully prepared to engage any law enforcement officers he saw."

Bassler was about 60 yards away when he was spotted, according to the sheriff. When he was 40 yards away, the SWAT team members shot at him and he fell to the ground.

"He was considered armed and dangerous," Allman said. "We believe there was seven shots fired. We believe all seven hit him."

When the first shot was fired Bassler raised his rifle towards them, but was killed almost instantly, the sheriff said.

"There were no verbal commands given to him to drop his weapon. After everything that's happened we believed that if law enforcement had called out their position he would have immediately fired," Allman said. "We've had 36 days of terror and that terror is now over.

"From the bottom of my heart I've said all along that I've wished and hoped that this could have ended without another shot being fired," Allman said. "If we had encountered Bassler and he wasn't carrying a firearm, or he was sleeping in the woods, the situation would have been different. But in this situation when he was alert and ready to engage, it unfortunately ended the way it did. But I surely wasn't going to put conditions on the law enforcement officers that would have put their lives in danger."

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