Former counselor shot in Mendo

09/15/2011

Forty-five-year-old Matthew Coleman, a longtime naturalist and former counselor at the Clem Miller Environmental Education Center in Point Reyes National Seashore, was shot and killed on August 11 outside Westport, in Mendocino County. More than a dozen local, state, and national law enforcement agencies, including the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, California Department of Fish and Game, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Guard, and US Marshals Service, are coordinating a manhunt for lead suspect and local transient Aaron Bassler, 35, who is also wanted for the August 27 murder of former Fort Bragg mayor and councilmember Jere Melo. Bassler was last spotted on September 4 near his mother’s Fort Bragg home. At the time of his death, Coleman was conducting forestry management duties related to his conservation work with the Mendocino Land Trust. Friend and former colleague Scott Wolland remembers Coleman as a dedicated, inspirational and playful educator with a big heart. “It was a terrible loss for the environmental community,” he said. “His ethos was he works for the earth. I’ve supervised over 100 people [at Clem Miller Environmental Education Center], and I don’t remember them all. He’s someone who had huge impact on the staff and the kids.”