CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tennis Melvin Maynard, accused of gunning down Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum in broad daylight last week, should not have had a gun, local and federal officials say.
"He was legally prohibited from possessing a firearm," Mingo County prosecutor C. Michael Sparks said Tuesday.
Authorities believe Maynard, 37, used a .40 caliber Glock handgun to shoot Crum twice as Crum sat in his car eating lunch on April 3. Maynard was later shot and wounded by a Mingo County sheriff's deputy following a car chase that ended in Delbarton.
Maynard, who had been on a ventilator and sedated following his shooting and arrest, was off the ventilator, walking around and responding to questions this week, State Police reported. He is charged with murder in connection to Crum's death and attempted murder for allegedly pulling a gun on the deputy who was pursuing him.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said agents for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms have traced the Glock that Maynard allegedly used. State Police say they now know where Maynard got the gun, but referred questions about the weapon to Sparks' office.
Sparks said he could not answer questions about specific evidence in Maynard's upcoming trial. But wherever Maynard got the gun, Sparks said, he should not have owned it. State Police also found several other guns in Maynard's possession.
Sparks said Maynard was prohibited from owning a gun under state and federal law. He could not say why, but Melvin Maynard, Tennis Maynard's father, has said his son had mental problems and had been institutionalized in the past.
That fact would have precluded Tennis Maynard from buying or owning a gun. A stay at a mental health facility automatically bars gun ownership.
Linda Richmond Artimez, director of mental hygiene and treatment court services for the West Virginia Supreme Court, said West Virginia has one of the most sophisticated systems in the country for reporting the mentally ill to the FBI for federal background checks on gun purchases.