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Father says accused gunman is mentally ill

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. — The man suspected of killing a West Virginia sheriff as he ate lunch in his car was mentally disturbed and had no particular vendetta against law enforcement, his father said Thursday.

Melvin Maynard said his 37-year-old son, Tennis Melvin Maynard, was exposed to harmful chemicals and injured while working at an Alabama coal mine. He most likely did not target Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, he said.

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‘‘He would have probably shot anybody, the first one he come to, you know what I’m saying?’’ the elder Maynard said.

‘‘I know he was off. I know he should have been in a hospital,’’ the father said, adding that his son had previously been in an institution. He refused to elaborate, saying only that ‘‘the same problem was eating him again.’’

Friends say Crum was shot to death in the spot where he parked most days, keeping an eye on a place that had been shut down for illegally dispensing prescription drugs to be sure it didn’t reopen.

Tennis Maynard was shot and wounded by a Mingo deputy in a chase following the attack on Crum. He remained hospitalized Thursday.

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