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Sheriff shooting suspect bought multiple guns

Sheriff shooting suspect bought multiple guns

April 12th, 2013 in News

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The man accused of killing a West Virginia sheriff bought several guns - not just one - after he had been determined legally ineligible to own them, a prosecutor said Friday.

Michael Sparks said the purchases were made after February 2010, when 37-year-old Tennis Melvin Maynard was deemed ineligible. Sparks, the Mingo County prosecutor, has declined to say why Maynard wasn't allowed to own a gun. But the suspect's father has said Maynard had mental problems and had been institutionalized.

Since 1968, federal law has banned certain individuals with a history of mental illness from buying guns. The nationwide background-check system, which is also used to prevent convicted felons from buying guns, was established under the 1993 Brady Bill.

A West Virginia database that forwards information on people involuntarily committed to a mental institution to the national system became operational in January 2011. Sparks said Maynard's "multiple" purchases were made before then, including the weapon used to shoot Sheriff Eugene Crum as the lawman ate lunch April 3 in a downtown Williamson parking lot.

Sparks said that gun was bought in Logan County.

Although Sparks wouldn't go into specifics, he said video surveillance - none of it close to the crime scene - is being collected as part of the investigation.

"One of my primary goals is to get as much video, any camera evidence to give a timeline on where (Maynard) was and what he was doing."

Maynard was shot and wounded by a Mingo County deputy in a chase following the attack on Crum. State Police say he crashed his car into a bridge in his hometown of Delbarton, then got out and pointed a weapon at the deputy, who shot him in self-defense.

State Police have said Maynard is up and moving at a Huntington hospital. Authorities have charged him with first-degree murder and attempted murder. In addition, federal prosecutors are investigating Maynard to see whether he lied on his gun permit application.

After his public defender cited a conflict, Huntington attorney Rick Weston was appointed to determine whether Maynard wants to hire his own counsel or wants one appointed for him, Sparks said.