Crum's widow sworn in as interim sheriff
WILLIAMSON, W.Va. -- Rosie Crum was sworn in as interim sheriff Thursday night and vowed to continue the legacy her husband began in cracking down on the county's prescription pill epidemic.
Earlier Thursday, authorities filed first-degree murder and attempted murder charges against the man suspected of shooting Sheriff Eugene Crum as he ate lunch in Williamson on Wednesday.
Williamson residents, friends and family huddled under umbrellas in freezing rain to watch Rosie's swearing in and to pay respects to her late husband.
Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury, who swore Rosie Crum in, wept as he remembered Eugene Crum as a friend and a "passionate servant to the people of Mingo County."
Mingo County Commission President John Mark Hubbard said commissioners felt that Rosie Crum's appointment "was only proper and we felt that's what the people of Mingo County would want.
"The deputies have lent their support for this and now we ask for your support," Hubbard said during a news conference Thursday.
Crum's daughter, Julie Hall, shared a statement Thursday night asking for the county to continue its fight against drugs, just as her father had wanted.
"We all lost a mighty, mighty man," Hall said. "There's a chance that if you knew dad, he had impacted your life in some way."
The vigil ended with the crowd joining hands to sing "Amazing Grace." Rosie Crum stood by the courthouse as Mingo County sheriff's deputies saluted and welcomed her as their new leader.
Meanwhile, Williamson Police Chief Dave Rockel told reporters early Thursday that authorities aren't ready to speculate about the suspected shooter's motives.
Rockel said Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, of Ragland, walked behind Eugene Crum's SUV parked along Third Avenue in downtown Williamson and fired two shots Wednesday.
Crum was pronounced dead at the scene and Maynard fled in his car along U.S. 52 toward Delbarton.
Maynard was sedated and on a ventilator Thursday but is expected to recover from gunshot wounds, State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said.
Maynard was arrested Wednesday after crashing his car into a bridge near Delbarton. Baylous said a Mingo County sheriff's deputy followed him to Delbarton and shot him after Maynard jumped out of the car and pointed a gun at him.
He was in critical but stable condition at Cabell-Huntington Hospital Thursday, Rockel said. Upon his release, he will be charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder.
Rockel said Maynard apparently used a semi-automatic handgun but wasn't sure Thursday if the weapon had been purchased legally. Baylous said Maynard had a .40-caliber Glock handgun with two rounds missing from the magazine when he was arrested.
Rockel said all evidence shows Maynard acted alone and authorities are tracing his steps that led to the fatal shooting.
Melvin Maynard told the Associated Press his 37-year-old son was exposed to harmful chemicals and injured while working at an Alabama coal mine. He had no vendetta against law enforcement and most likely did not target Eugene Crum, Melvin Maynard said.
"He would have probably shot anybody, the first one he come to, you know what I'm saying?" the elder Maynard told AP.
"I know he was off. I know he should have been in a hospital," the father said, adding that his son had previously been in an institution. He refused to elaborate, saying only that "the same problem was eating him again."
Rockel would not comment about whether Crum's death is connected to recent high-profile deaths of prosecutors and police from around the country.
That question would be left up to prosecutors, he said.
Crum's children, Julie and Bub, joined authorities Thursday afternoon on the courthouse steps in Williamson.
Hubbard asked everyone to pray for Crum's family and said the last 26 hours had been a difficult time for everyone in Mingo County.
Thornsbury said on Thursday night that Crum was aware of the dangers in his job and had received anonymous threats since he took office.
"A couple of ministers came to him just last week. One minister said he had a vision that harm was going to come his way," Thornsbury said. "He knew it. We talked about it 30 or 40 minutes before he died. He said that even if he got threats he wouldn't fret ... that he would fight back."
A memorial service and visitation will take place Saturday at 5 p.m. at Mingo Central High School in Delbarton. A funeral service will also be held at the school Sunday at 1 p.m.
"Sheriff Crum will receive all honors fitting of a law enforcement officer," Hubbard said.
Crum took office in January. He had campaigned on ridding the county of illegal drugs, particularly the illicit use of prescription painkillers. His crackdown on the drug trade in the county had been dubbed Operation Zero Tolerance.
Prosecutors say Crum liked to park his SUV on his lunch break near a shuttered "pill mill" every day.
Before Crum's death, Maynard had never faced criminal charges in West Virginia, according to county and state records. Baylous said State Police had responded to past incidents involving Maynard, but he declined to elaborate.
The mental health problems described by Maynard's father appear to stem from a lightning strike near a drilling rig at Drummond Co.'s Shoal Creek mine June 27, 2007. Tennis Maynard sued more than two-dozen people and companies in 2009 over injuries he said he suffered at the mine. A lightning strike sparked an explosion, which news reports at the time said injured six people.
The lawsuit doesn't detail the nature of his physical injuries or say exactly what happened. But Maynard claimed he endured "extreme, severe, prolonged emotional and mental pain and suffering," depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.
The mine west of Birmingham, Ala., had been cited for a string of safety problems and had been shut down for six months the year before the lightning strike, when methane gas ignited and the mine flooded. The case had been put on hold, and a hearing was set for August.
The Associated Press and Gazette staff writer Rusty Marks contributed to this report. Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.