WILLIAMSON, W. Va. — Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot at point blank range while sitting in his official vehicle Wednesday afternoon.
Eyewitnesses told the Williamson Daily News that a man who has been identified as Tennis Maynard, of Ragland, walked up to the sheriff’s SUV and at point blank range, shot Crum in the forehead and temple region, killing him instantly.
In a matter of moments, police from all agencies swarmed to the scene and began the heart-breaking task of investigating one of their own. An all-points bulletin was issued for the shooter and in a short time period, he was located in Delbarton and shot and seriously injured by law enforcement after pulling a gun on them, according to Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Corporal N. Mines.
The scene in Mingo County, located on the state border with Kentucky near Pikeville, was one that came straight out of a nightmare. You could hear crying, screaming and shouts of anger as the family, friends and co-workers strived to deal with the loss of one of their finest.
Crum, who took office at the beginning of the year, had led an effort dubbed Zero Tolerance. His crusade to address the drug problem in the county brought a lot of attention to the sheriff.
“He’s been in office for four months, and has done more than any sheriff we’ve had serve in that capacity in the last thirty years,” stated Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury. “He was determined to put a stop to the drug trafficking in this county and worked day and night, making arrests and obtaining indictments since before he even took office, while he was serving as our Drug Task Force Commander.
“He was passionate, committed and on a mission. He made a promise to the citizens of this county that he would concentrate on drugs and that’s exactly what he did. He lost his life today while doing his job.”
Drug Task Force Commander C.D. Rockel, who also serves as the Williamson Police Chief, is lead investigator and had to push back his feelings of grief at the loss of his friend and fellow lawman to do his official job.
“Eugene was one of the best men I’ve ever known. This doesn’t feel real,” said Rockel.
Crum’s family members arrived at the scene and had to receive treatment from EMS on scene, after his brother-in-law, Rusty Martin nearly collapsed after being told the news.
Crum was pronounced dead on the scene by Mingo County Medical Examiner Mike Casey, and was transported to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Charleston for autopsy. A candlelight vigil is planned for this evening at 8:30 on the Mingo County Court House steps, as friends, family and law enforcement gather to pay their respects.
Maynard, meanwhile, allegedly fled the scene toward the town of Delbarton, where he was shot and later apprehended by authorities.
Eyewitnesses in Delbarton said a gold Ford Ranger pickup truck was traveling south on state Route 65 through the town, followed by an unmarked police car. Police stopped the pickup by forcing it into the side of a bridge. Witnesses say Mingo County Sheriff’s Department Corporal N. Mines approached the vehicle and shots were fired. Mines said the suspect pulled a gun. The driver of the pickup was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Logan, W. Va. His condition remains unknown.
A motive for the murder has yet to be determined.