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Eastern Panhandle sheriffs not letting guard down after fellow sheriff's death

April 04, 2013|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • This undated photo shows Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum. Crum was gunned down Wednesday in the spot where he usually parked and ate lunch in Williamson, W.Va.
Associated Press

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Sheriffs in the Eastern Panhandle said the shooting of a fellow sheriff in Mingo County has not caused them to be more concerned about their own safety, but they don’t intend to let their guard down, either.

“If someone’s intent on killing you, there’s only reasonable amounts of precaution you can take,” Jefferson County Sheriff Peter Dougherty said Thursday in reaction to the death of Eugene Crum, who was fatally shot Wednesday in Williamson, W.Va.

The suspect, 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard, was shot and wounded by a Mingo County deputy following a chase. State police said the deputy shot Maynard after he pulled a weapon.

“It is a very tragic event,” Berkeley County Sheriff Kenneth Lemaster Jr. said of Crum’s death.

Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh said hearts and prayers go out to Mingo County and he has offered to assist in any way possible.

Dougherty said everything he has heard about Crum was positive, that “he was really a decent guy.”

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Dougherty, who was appointed to the post last month by the Jefferson County Commission, recalled telling commissioners that he would be more of a “suit-and-tie” sheriff, but added Thursday that he is fully trained and carries a firearm.

“When you take a job like this, you realize there’s an enhanced element of risk in it,” Dougherty said.

Shambaugh said he never is totally relaxed in doing his job, but doesn’t run around paranoid, either.

Shambaugh said the Mingo County shooting hasn’t given him reason to take additional safety measures, but he would make sure his deputies are not complacent in any way.

“It’s a very unfortunate thing, but it’s something we all live under,” Shambaugh said.

After serving in various capacities in law enforcement, starting in patrol deputy and rising through the ranks before being elected sheriff, Lemaster said he feels comfortable relying on his more than 30 years of law enforcement experience to protect himself going forward.

“I’m more concerned about my (deputies’ safety) than I am about myself,” Lemaster said. “You can’t worry about it every day because you couldn’t do your job.”

Lemaster said his department’s honor guard will be represented at Crum’s funeral service on Sunday.

“I’ve been on several conference calls with the (West Virginia) Sheriff’s Association to help with the service down there,” Lemaster said.

The service will be at 1 p.m., said Lemaster, who is a member of the association’s board of directors.

Lemaster, who plans to attend Crum’s service, said county sheriffs from across the state are coming together to contribute to the service given that Mingo County has a small department and limited resources.

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