CHARLESTON, W.Va. — 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.