Execution  style killings of  law enforcement  officers in  3 states  ( Texas, Colorado and  West  Virginia) in   one month
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Sheriff Murdered in W.Va. Town Had Cracked Down on Drugs

April 4, 2013

JOHN RABY and VICKI SMITH, Associated Press

sheriffThis undated photo shows Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, who was gunned down Wednesday, April 3, 2013 in the spot where he usually parked and ate lunch in Williamson, W.Va. (AP Photo/Williamson Daily News)

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) – Just months before being gunned down, Sheriff Eugene Crum made good on a campaign promise to do what many in law enforcement have attempted for years in southern West Virginia — crack down on drugs, especially the illegal sale of prescription pills.

In three months and two days on the job, he’d already helped indict dozens of suspected drug dealers through Mingo County’s new Operation Zero Tolerance. Authorities haven’t said whether that crusade was related to his shooting death at mid-day on a Williamson street Wednesday, but residents and county officials suspect it.

Crum’s team has targeted people “who spread the disease of addiction among our residents,” said County Commission President John Mark Hubbard.

Resident Jerry Cline stood near the site of the slaying hours later, the drug crackdown clearly at the forefront of his thoughts.

“He told them right before he got in as sheriff, `If you’re dealing drugs, I’m coming after you. I’m cleaning this town up,'” Cline said. “… He got out just to do one thing, and that’s to clean this town up. That’s all that man tried to do.”

Authorities were mum on any motive and the connection between Crum and their suspect, 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard, and did not announce what charges he would face. A Mingo deputy shot and wounded Maynard after a chase and after the suspect pulled a weapon, state police said.

At a news conference hours after the killing, officials mourned the fallen sheriff, but State Police Capt. David Nelson and others released few details on what happened blocks away from the county courthouse in the small town or later with the suspect.

“We were and we are proud of him and his service,” Hubbard said. “To say Eugene will be missed is a vast understatement.”

A bouquet of red roses with a red ribbon was fastened to a guardrail above the parking lot where the shooting happened.

Though there is no indication of any connection, Crum’s killing comes on the heels of a Texas district attorney and his wife being shot to death in their home over the weekend, and just weeks after Colorado’s corrections director also was gunned down at his home. Those bold killings and others have led authorities to propose more protection for law enforcers.

Crum was killed in the same place where he parked his car most days to eat lunch, near the site of a former pharmacy known for illegally distributing pills, a “pill mill” the sheriff wanted to be sure remained shut, said Delegate Harry Keith White, who campaigned with Crum last year.

“I think anybody you ask would tell you he was a great guy, always with a positive attitude, always trying to help people,” White said. “It’s just a sad, sad day for Mingo County and the state of West Virginia.”

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