Court Security

Courthouse locked after county sheriff is shot to death outside; 'nobody's safe,' magistrate says

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A West Virginia courthouse was on lockdown Wednesday afternoon after the county sheriff was shot to death outside.

Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum liked to eat lunch in the same spot within a block of the courthouse in Williamson while sitting in his patrol vehicle, according to the Associated Press, the Charleston Daily Mail and the Los Angeles Times.

County Delegate Justin Marcum, who serves as assistant prosecutor, said that from that spot, Crum could watch a former pill mill site that he feared might be going back into business. When a vehicle pulled up alongside Crum, he rolled down his window and was shot, Marcum told the Charleston newspaper.

A suspect, Tennis Maynard, has been arrested, but it hasn’t been reported what led authorities to connect him to Crum’s death. The AP article says Maynard was arrested by a sheriff’s officer after a chase and a car crash and suffered gunshot wounds for which he is being treated at a hospital.

Crum, a former magistrate for 12 years, had only recently been elected sheriff and started work in January on what Marcum said had been Crum’s dream job,

The sheriff’s death follows other high-profile slayings throughout the country recently that have put law enforcement officers, lawyers and judges on edge.

Magistrate Kim Aaron, who sits in Kanawha, was shocked and tearful over the death of Crum, who was a friend as well as a colleague.

“Nobody’s safe,” she told the Daily Mail. “None of us. I think every public official ought to take a long hard look at their safety.”

Other recent killings include a Texas district attorney and his wife, who were shot to death at their home less than a week ago; another prosecutor in the same Kaufman County office who was shot to death two months earlier in a parking lot near the courthouse at which he worked; the Colorado prisons superintendent, who was shot to death when he answered the door at his home last month; the fatal courthouse shootings of a complaining witness and a female friend in Wilmington, Del., in February; and a series of California attacks, some fatal, attributed to a former Los Angeles police officer who died in a confrontation with law enforcement.

Suspects in the California, Colorado and Delaware attacks are dead, but the other slayings are unsolved, and authorities have not publicly announced that there are any suspects in those cases. Investigators are also looking at whether other individuals might have been involved in the cases in which suspects are dead.

It isn’t known what motivated the unsolved killings or the fatal attack on the Colorado prisons chief, but the California and Delaware slayings are believed to have been sparked by contentious litigation.

Additional and related coverage: “Reports: Driver’s license of fugitive ex-cop accused in slayings is found with body in burned cabin” “Courthouse shooter had prior run-ins with lawyers over family dispute” “Court security is hot topic after recent litigation-related attacks” “Probe of Colo. prisons chief murder focuses on other slayings, possible gang involvement”

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