West Virginia sheriff shot; suspect in custody
Sheriff Eugene Crum, known for his work in cracking down on drug dealers, was shot and killed in his police cruiser on Wednesday. The sheriff had just taken office in January.
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"They shouldn't scare cops into not wanting to do their jobs," he said.Skip to next paragraph
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"It's people like that that give this place a bad name — somebody that would do something that stupid, to kill somebody that's trying to make it a better place," Jude said. "You wouldn't think something like that would happen, especially in the middle of town."
Jerry Cline stood near the site of the slaying hours later, recalling how Crum watched the traffic and the community but "never messed with nobody unless they were violating the law."
Authorities have not said whether the shooting was related to Crum's drug crackdown, but it was on Cline's mind.
"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 the clean this town up. That's all that man tried to do."
Cline's wife, Loretta, said the sheriff was a good friend to everyone, even those who barely knew him.
"Once you meet him one time, it's like you've known him all your life," she said. "Every time you'd see him, he was always the same. He always had a smile on his face. He was a very loving person."
Crum had been a magistrate for 12 years and had previously served as police chief in Delbarton. He won the primarily handily and ran unopposed in the general election in the fall.
Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo and an assistant county prosecutor, called Crum "a true friend to the county."
Williamson sits along the Tug Fork River in a part of the state long associated with violence.
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.
In the slayings of the Texas district attorney and his wife, officials suspect a white supremacist prison gang. Those killings happened a couple of months after one 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. Since the killings, worried authorities are talking about better protecting prosecutors and other law enforcers.
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.