WILLIAMSON — “Mingo County weeps for the loss of our beloved sheriff, Eugene Crum,” said County Commission President John Mark Hubbard, during a press conference held on the courthouse steps at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
“To say that today’s events are dark and surreal doesn’t begin to illustrate the tragedy that is the loss of Sheriff Crum.”
Walter Eugene Crum, 59, served as the sheriff of Mingo County for only three months and two days. Hubbard stated that serving in that capacity had been a lifelong dream fulfilled for him.
“Our sheriff has literally given his life for public service,” Hubbard said. “He began his career as a corrections officer before serving with the Matewan and Delbarton Police Departments. He served 10 years on the bench as a Mingo County Magistrate, four of those being as chief magistrate. While waiting to take the office as sheriff, he served as a special investigator for the Mingo County Prosecutor’s office.”
“One of the things so unique about Sheriff Crum was that he was the only man to ever be elected as the Sheriff of Mingo County that had graduated the West Virginia State Police (WVSP) Academy.”
Hubbard remarked that Eugene’s passion for law enforcement and for Mingo County was especially evident since he took office on January 1, 2013. According to Hubbard, Eugene, his deputies, and other law enforcement agencies in Mingo County worked tirelessly to wipe out crime, especially targeting the drug dealers who spread the disease of addition among the residents of our county.
“These efforts did not go unnoticed as countless residents expressed their appreciation to him and others for a job well done. We were – and are – proud of him and his service.”
Mingo County Drug Task Force Commander C.D. Rockel will step into the leadership position for the sheriff’s department, until commission members decide on their next move. Remarks were made by commissioners that Rockel’s skills and knowledge would provide the proper direction for the officers and lead them down the right path during this difficult time.
WVSP Captain Dave Nelson addressed those in attendance and stated that the alleged shooter, Tennis Maynard, of Ragland, was located by a sheriff’s deputy a short time after the incidents occurred and when approached, drew his gun and was subsequently shot by the officer.
Maynard was transported to the Logan Regional Medical Center and was then flown to Cabell Huntington Hospital where he is listed in serious condition. The shooting, according to Nelson, was completely justified.
“This officer is a hero, it’s truly hard to say what the intention of the shooter was at that time,” stated Commander Rockel. “The officer possible saved a number of lives by taking quick and appropriate action.”
The handgun allegedly used to murder Sheriff Crum was confiscated from Maynard’s vehicle, and was identified by MCSD Sgt. Joe Smith as a compact .40 caliber Glock handgun.
Commissioner Dave Baisden spoke with the Daily News and said he had been blessed to have the sheriff as a friend since the 1970’s, and stated that this is one of the hardest things he has ever had to deal with.
“I never dreamed that anything like this would ever happen in this county,” said Baisden. “We need to rally around Rosie (Eugene’s wife) and the kids and help them through this any way we can. I ask that everyone please pray for God to give them comfort in this time of despair.”
A candlelight vigil for the slain sheriff will be held Thursday evening at 8 p.m., on the courthouse steps. The public is encouraged to attend. In an effort to honor Eugene’s memory, the “Sheriff Eugene Crum Memorial Fund” has been established at the Community Trust Bank, acct. # 4003143965.
“We ask not only the residents of our county and of our state to keep the Crum family in your prayers, but all of America,” said Hubbard. “Please pray for the healing of our county.”