Brave and beloved sheriff who took on drug dealers is assassinated at point blank range as he parks his car for lunch

  • Eugene Crum was shot at point blank range where he regularly parked his car for lunch
  • The Sheriff was known for cracking down on illegal drug trade in state's coalfields
  • Suspect shot by deputy and taken into custody after fleeing scene

By Daily Mail Reporter

|


A beloved sheriff known for cracking down on illegal drug trade in southern West Virginia's coalfields was fatally shot at point blank range where he's known to park his car for lunch, a state official said.

Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum died from his injuries within a block of the county courthouse in Williamson on Wednesday afternoon with a suspect not long after taken into custody.

Crum led a drug task force and an initiative called Operation Zero Tolerance, making good on a campaign pledge, said Delegate Harry Keith White, who campaigned with Crum last year.

Killed: Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum died of his wounds on Wednesday after being shot on the streets where he regularly parks his car for lunch

Killed: Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum died of his wounds on Wednesday after being shot on the streets where he regularly parks his car for lunch

Tragedy: Crum died from his injuries at the scene after leading a drug task force and an initiative called Operation Zero Tolerance as part of a campaign pledge

Tragedy: Crum died from his injuries at the scene after leading a drug task force and an initiative called Operation Zero Tolerance as part of a campaign pledge

He said his friend was shot to death where he regularly parked his patrol vehicle to eat lunch, near the site of a former pharmacy known for illegally distributing pills.

'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.'

 

The suspect, who was shot by a deputy, was taken to a hospital in Logan, said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's chief of staff Rob Alsop said.

The suspect wrecked his vehicle while attempting to flee the scene and was shot after he was seen raising his weapon, Capt Dave Nelson of the West Virginia State Patrol told CNN.

The suspect has not yet been identified.

The courthouse was immediately evacuated, streets into the city were blocked off and officers held white sheets around the crime scene, Crum's body further shielded by two vehicles.

Beloved: Friends say anyone who knew Crum would say he was a great guy who was always surrounded by family as a devote grandfather

Beloved: Friends say anyone who knew Crum would say he was a great guy who was always surrounded by family as a devote grandfather

Promises: Crum led a drug task force and an initiative called Operation Zero Tolerance, making good on a campaign pledge last year, he's seen while being sworn in

Promises: Crum led a drug task force and an initiative called Operation Zero Tolerance, making good on a campaign pledge last year, he's seen while being sworn in

The shooting occurred within a block of the county courthouse, said Office of Emergency Services head dispatcher Willis Spence.

Officials planned a news conference for 6 pm in the county in the southwest corner of West Virginia, on the border with Kentucky.

Crum had resigned his post as a county magistrate before launching his sheriff's campaign as a signal of integrity, preferring to run as a civilian rather than an official, White said. He won the primarily handily and ran unopposed in the general election in the fall.

Crum had been a magistrate for 12 years and had previously served as police chief in Delbarton.

White said Crum was dedicated to improving the community and devoted to his grandchildren and adult children.

'He always had family around him,' he said.

After dozens of indictments were issued earlier this year, Prosecutor Michael Sparks issued a press release declaring that Crum 'exceeded my highest expectations' and 'has provided a game changing boost to our drug enforcement program.'

Crime scene: Law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel cover the vehicle at the scene of the shooting in downtown Williamson with one suspect in custody

Crime scene: Law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel cover the vehicle at the scene of the shooting in downtown Williamson with one suspect in custody

Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo and an assistant county prosecutor, called Crum 'a true friend to the county.'

'He'll be dearly missed,' he said.

Williamson, a town of about 3,200, sits along the Tug Fork River in a part of the state long associated with violence. Mingo and neighboring McDowell County are home to the legendary blood feud between the Hatfield family of West Virginia and the McCoy family of Kentucky, a conflict dating to the Civil War.

Crum's county was dubbed 'Bloody Mingo' during the early 20th century mine wars, when unionizing miners battled Baldwin-Felts security agents hired by the coal operators.

In May 1920, after evicting striking miners in Red Jacket, some of the Baldwin-Felts men tried to board a train in nearby Matewan but were confronted by the mayor and the chief of police, Sid Hatfield, a former miner, who had family ties to the Hatfields in the feud.

After a gun battle recreated in the 1987 John Sayles film 'Matewan,' the mayor, two miners, a bystander and three agents lay dead. Hatfield became a hero but was gunned down on the courthouse steps a year later in Matewan.

Emergency response: The courthouse just one block away was evacuated, streets into the city were blocked off and officers held white sheets around the crime scene

Emergency response: The courthouse just one block away was evacuated, streets into the city were blocked off and officers held white sheets around the crime scene

Though there is no indication of a direct 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 officials suspect a white supremacist prison gang. Those killings happened a couple of months after 1 of the county's assistant district attorneys was killed near his courthouse office.

Colorado's corrections director, Tom Clements, was killed March 19 when he answered the doorbell at his home outside Colorado Springs. Two days later, Evan Spencer Ebel, a white supremacist and former Colorado inmate suspected of shooting Clements, died in a shootout about 100 miles from Kaufman. On Monday, judicial officials acknowledged Ebel was freed four years early because of a paperwork error.

U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin called Crum's killing 'shocking' and said he's spoken to the State Police, which will lead the investigation. He pledged the assistance of his office and whatever other federal agencies are needed.

Over the last century, 14 prosecutors have been killed, according to news reports and statistics kept by the National District Attorneys Association. At least 8 of them were targeted in the line of duty. The Officer Down Memorial Page says 197 police officers in West Virginia have died in the line of duty, 136 of them from deliberate gunfire.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Mark , Obetz;... "Robert, when the law was created the military only had muzzle loaders, too. It was not the intent of the founders for the citizens to be outgunned."...Says who? You've talked to them have you? The 2nd Amendment is 27 words long, and mentions absolutely nothing about what you indicate about it. It does mention a militia, which you right wingers completely ignore. The writer of the "Bill of Rights" was completely against the second amendment as were many others. It was only included when Benjamen Franklin and Thomas Jefferson reminded him of the dire threats from the French and English that the new US still faced and the enormous cost of keeping a standing army. It was included so that a militia could be maintained and called up quickly. A militia would mean you're attached to an army unit and you take an oath to PROTECT the government. Nowhere is it written in, or intended, that the 2nd amendment was meant as a check on government. That's just more right wing delusion

Click to rate     Rating   (0)

Mexican drug violence moves north ? Closing the border might help. Instead this gov't releases thousands of "undocumented" felons back into the general population !

Click to rate     Rating   1

If Obama has his way, pretty soon the only people with guns will be the cartels.

Click to rate     Rating   4

If Americans want drugs, the government's sole role should be ensuring a hygienic supply of drugs. Zero Tolerance from parental officials is experiencing blowback.

Click to rate     Rating   6

There is an ongoing systematic elimination of all upright standing public officials. This is incredibly sinister as it would implicate the government. There will be more of the same as we hurtle towards the One World Government, a global currency and martial law.

Click to rate     Rating   4

RIP SHERIFF CRUM..

Click to rate     Rating   9

Bad guys shoot first -- guns provide no defense against that. Does anyone still think NRA's Mad Max approach is going to result in a world worth living in?

Click to rate     Rating   12

I'm so glad I live in one of the most isolated cities in the world!

Click to rate     Rating   6

Still love your guns?

Click to rate     Rating   34

Maybe if we just ban drugs, then America will be much safer. We could also ban alcohol since it's bad. I just wish someone had tried such a prohibition in the past, so we could know whether or not it will work...

Click to rate     Rating   31

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

You have 1000 characters left.
Libellous and abusive comments are not allowed. Please read our House Rules.
For information about privacy and cookies please read our Privacy Policy.
Terms