Sheriff Eugene Crum, known for his work in cracking down on drug dealers, was shot and killed in his police cruiser on Wednesday. The sheriff had just taken office in January.
AP Photo/Williamson Daily News, Rachel Baldwin
A new sheriff who was cracking down on the drug trade in southern West Virginia's coalfields was fatally shot Wednesday in the spot where he usually parked his car for lunch, and State Police said the suspect was in a hospital with gunshot wounds inflicted by a deputy who chased him.
Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum died of his wounds, but State Police Capt. David Nelson didn't say how many times he was shot or offer many other details as two dozen law enforcement officers gathered around him on the courthouse steps.
The suspect, 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard, was being treated at a hospital in Huntington late Wednesday.
Nelson said Maynard was fleeing from a deputy and crashed his car into a bridge in nearby Delbarton. Maynard got out of the vehicle and pulled a gun on the deputy, who fired in self-defense, Nelson said. Authorities did not announce what charges Maynard might face.
Crum was elected last year and had just taken office in January, but he'd already helped indict dozens of suspected drug dealers through the county's new Operation Zero Tolerance.
It's unclear whether that crusade was related to his death, but residents and county officials suspect it.
County Commission President John Mark Hubbard said Crum's team has targeted people "who spread the disease of addiction among our residents."
"We were and we are proud of him and his service," he said. "To say Eugene will be missed is a vast understatement."
The county courthouse was evacuated and closed after the shooting. Streets into the city of about 3,200 were temporarily blocked off and officers held white sheets around the crime scene, Crum's body further shielded by two vehicles.
Later, a bouquet of red roses with a red ribbon was fastened to a guardrail above the parking lot.
Page 1 of 4