PARKERSBURG - Law enforcement officials in the Mid-Ohio Valley reacted to the news of the killing Wednesday of Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum.
Wood County Sheriff Ken Merritt said he had met Crum at meetings and called him a "top notch" law enforcement officer. Merritt said he came away with a good impression of Crum.
"He seemed to be a very intelligent person," Merritt said. "It will be something that won't be forgotten soon, when a brother sheriff goes down like that."
Law enforcement officers and emergency service personnel cover the vehicle at the scene of the shooting in downtown Williamson, W.Va., Wednesday, where Sheriff Eugene Crum was shot and killed. (AP Photo)
Merritt said Crum was protecting his community when he was shot at point blank range.
Crum's death highlights what seems to be a trend in killings of law enforcement officials with the recent deaths of a prosecutor in Texas and a corrections administrator in Colorado, Merritt said.
"It is escalating to an average of one a week or more and the shootings seem to get worse," Merritt said. "We will continue to go out and do what we have to do and take more precautions."
Merritt, who has been in law enforcement for 40 years, said Crum was an example of someone who loved what he did and his community.
"We will still go on and go the best way we can," he said.
Washington County Sheriff Larry Mincks said the shooting drives home the importance for officers to be aware of their surroundings at all times.
"You have to be aware every day of what's going on," he said. "I don't think it will increase awareness but it will certainly help everyone focus more every day."
Mincks said deaths in law enforcement are not as uncommon as some think.
"You have to understand a large number of police officers are killed daily," he said. "We hear about them all over and certainly hope they apprehend the person or persons who did this."
Mincks said this will help all officers on the street to be more vigilant.
"Every officer needs to be aware every second of every day," he said.
Belpre Chief of Police Ernie D. Clevenger said officers are always at a heightened level of awareness, especially after the killings in Texas.
"For law enforcement you stay at a sense of heightened awareness for most of your career," he said. "It's sad but it is a reality; you have to be aware of that and have that sense, especially in this profession."
Parkersburg Chief of Police Joe Martin said the killing brought the recent violence against law enforcement closer to home.
"Initially I was surprised to hear it and it brought the shooting of the prosecutor in Texas a little closer to home," he said. "I did not know Sheriff Crum, but as a department we mourn the death of a fellow officer; our prayers and thoughts go out to his family and his department."
Martin said an incident like this makes officers more aware of their surroundings.
"It makes one more aware of where you are and who you are around," he said. "Any of us can be a target."
Williamstown Chief of Police B.D. Adkins said the news of Crum's death was a shock.
"It's a horrible thing; it's a horrible and bad thing to have happen," he said.
Wood County Chief Deputy Shawn Graham said Crum's shooting highlights the danger of the job more.
"It is certainly a tragic situation and it makes you think twice about walking out the door," he said. "A lot of public officials have been killed by a cold-blooded murderer and it sounds like we have a similar case today."
Although Crum's funeral plans have not been announced, Graham said Wood County will be represented.