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Dad: W.Va. sheriff slaying suspect mentally ‘off’

The man suspected of killing a West Virginia sheriff as he ate lunch in his car was mentally disturbed and had no particular vendetta against law enforcement, his father said yesterday.

Melvin Maynard said his 37-year-old son, Tennis Melvin Maynard, was exposed to harmful chemicals and injured while working at an Alabama coal mine. He most likely did not target Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, he said.

“He would have probably shot anybody, the first one he come to, you know what I’m saying?” the elder Maynard said.

“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.”

Witnesses told the police Maynard was alone when he shot Crum in Williamson, W.Va., and investigators still haven’t determined why he shot the sheriff, said Dave Rockel, the Mingo County Drug Task Force commander and Williamson police chief.

Crum had been in office just three months before he was killed Wednesday afternoon, making good on a campaign pledge to help rid the southern coalfields of the illegal prescription drug trade blamed for thousands of addictions and overdoses.

Friends say he was shot to death in the spot where he parked most days, keeping an eye on a place that had been shut down for illegally dispensing prescription drugs to be sure it didn’t reopen.

Tennis Maynard was shot and wounded by a Mingo deputy in a chase following the attack on Crum. The state police said he crashed his car into a bridge in his hometown of Delbarton, then got out and pointed a weapon at the deputy, who fired in self-defense.

State police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said Tennis Maynard is expected to survive and remained at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington yesterday.

Maynard has been charged with murder in Crum’s death and attempted murder in the incident with the deputy, authorities said.

Before Crum’s death, Maynard had never faced criminal charges in West Virginia, according to county and state records. Baylous said the state police had responded to past incidents involving Maynard, though he declined to elaborate.

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