A city councilman and former mayor of Fort Bragg, California was gunned down while investigating a report of an illegal drug farm there. This won't help Mendocino County's reputation as among the mellowest of narco-hubs.

The former mayor, Jere Melo, was reportedly investigating a report of an illegal pot farm on private timberland when he and a companion encountered a collection of opium poppies and then came under fire from a high caliber rifle. The other man survived; Melo, a 69 year old pillar of the community, did not. The 35 year old suspect in the case is a transient with a history of mental problems — he recently wrote to Chinese diplomats about the "Martian military" — but the drug connection could cast surrounding Mendocino County in a harsher light.

County officials estimate up to two thirds of the local economy traces back to marijuana cultivation, with many of the smaller farms perfectly legal under state medical marijuana laws yet still banned under federal law. There's even been talk of a "marijuana bubble" there in recent years as tighter border security drove up prices. That sort of scene tend to attract not-so-chill dudes with guns; hopefully local authorities are improving their ability to keep away the ones they fail to mellow out.

[Photo of a poppy field via Kodda/Shutterstock]