When Mingo County, W.Va., Sheriff Eugene Crum took office in January, he set about keeping a campaign promise: Crum intended to crack down on the illegal drug trade, especially on prescription pain pills.
He didn't get far. On Wednesday, while Crum was sitting in his parked car in Williamson, a man walked up to him and shot the sheriff in the head. Crum is dead.
A Mingo County deputy spotted a suspect and gave chase. That ended when the man, Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, jumped from his wrecked car and allegedly pointed a gun at the deputy. The deputy fired several times, wounding Maynard. The suspect was in a Huntington hospital at last report.
It was not known immediately whether Crum's death was related to his personal war on drugs.
But that conflict has been a bloody one for West Virginia law enforcement officers during the past year. Last August, two State Police troopers were shot to death by a man whose family said drugs had ruined his life.
Illegal use of drugs is a crisis in West Virginia, taking scores of lives, directly and indirectly, each year.
But for law enforcement officers, it has become a war, too, and they are on the front lines against a vicious enemy.
If you use drugs illegally, think about that. More than ruining your own life and perhaps your family's, you are an accessory to murder. Really think about that.