A West Virginia sheriff with a reputation for cracking down on drug dealers was shot in the head at point blank range and killed outside a county courthouse today, officials and witnesses said.
Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot and killed while sitting in his vehicle during his lunch break in the town of Williamson, state Delegate Harry Keith White told ABC News.
A witness told ABC News that he watched the suspect approach Crum's car, where he was known to eat lunch, and fire twice into the vehicle. The suspect then calmly walked to his truck, described as a tan Ford ranger, and drove away.
Another witness, Larry Dove, told the West Virginia Gazette he saw a man shoot Crum "right in the head."
The shooting suspect, identified as Tennis Melvin Maynard, 36, was wounded in a shootout with police, captured and taken to a hospital, West Virginia State Police spokesman Michael Baylous told ABC News.
After Maynard fled the shooting, he was "encountered by a Mingo County sheriff's deputy" and crashed his vehicle into a bridge, said police. There he "raised his firearm and pointed it at the deputy. The deputy responded to that threat and shot the suspect."
Crum was elected sheriff in January.
His death follows a string of high-profile assassinations of law enforcement officers and prosecutors in recent weeks, including two Texas prosecutors and the chief of Colorado's prison system.
Investigators from around the country are working to determine if there is any connection among the killings.
Since April 2, 2012, 28 police officers have been killed nationwide, according to preliminary data by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Of those deaths, 13 were caused by guns.