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 with law enforcement, his father told The Associated Press on 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.
"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."
Crum had been in office just three months before he was killed Wednesday afternoon, making good on a campaign pledge to help rid the southern coalfields of the illegal prescription drug trade blamed for thousands of addictions and overdoses.
Friends say he 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. 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 fired in self-defense.
State Police spokesman Sgt. Michael Baylous said Tennis Maynard is expected to survive and remained at Cabell Huntington Hospital in Huntington on Thursday. A hospital spokesman refused to comment on his condition, citing federal privacy laws.
State Police have charged Maynard with attempted murder for allegedly pulling the gun on the deputy, Baylous said. A Glock .40-caliber handgun is believed to be the weapon used on Crum.
Charges for his slaying will be filed separately by the Williamson Police Department.
Melvin Maynard said he didn't know his son had a handgun.
State Police would not comment on Tennis Maynard's criminal history. Baylous said the agency has responded to past incidents involving him, though he declined to elaborate.
The Mingo County Magistrate Court Clerk's office said Maynard had no previous arrests in the county. The West Virginia Division of Corrections and the state's Regional Jail and Correctional Facilities Authority also said they had no criminal records for Tennis Maynard.
Court records in Alabama corroborate Melvin Maynard's claim about his son's injuries at a coal mine. Tennis Maynard sued more than two dozen people and companies in 2009 over an accident at Drummond Co.'s Shoal Creek mine on June 27, 2007.
The complaint doesn't detail the nature of his physical injuries or say exactly what happened, but news reports indicate lightning caused an explosion that injured six people.
The lightning struck near a rig where workers were using a drill to bore a new 1,300-foot shaft. Maynard's lawsuit alleges the drilling equipment was faulty.
Maynard claimed he endured "extreme, severe, prolonged emotional and mental pain and suffering," depression and post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the incident.
The mine west of Birmingham had been cited for a string of safety problems and had been shut down for six months the year before the lightning strike, when methane gas ignited and the mine flooded.
The judge dismissed some defendants from Maynard's lawsuit last summer, and the case was put on hold to allow time for mediation of a possible settlement. An August hearing is scheduled.
Maynard's attorney in that case, Craig Lowell, didn't immediately return telephone and email messages.