(Reuters) - The suspect in the shooting death of a drug-fighting West Virginia sheriff was critically wounded by police who pursued him but is expected to survive to face murder and attempted murder charges, officials said on Thursday.
Eugene Crum, the sheriff of Mingo County in southwestern West Virginia, was killed on Wednesday as he sat in his department SUV in the coal-mining town of Williamson.
Police said the suspect, Tennis Maynard, 37, of Ragland, West Virginia, fled the scene in his own vehicle. He crashed into a bridge and a sheriff's deputy shot him when he raised a weapon, police said.
Maynard was flown to a Huntington, West Virginia, hospital. Glen Rutledge, Mingo County assistant prosecutor, said he was in critical condition.
The West Virginia State Police said in a statement that Maynard was shot multiple times but was expected to survive. At the bridge scene, police recovered a .40 caliber Glock handgun thought to have been used to shoot Crum.
Rutledge said Maynard faced charges of attempted murder and murder. He declined to give a motive for the attack.
The shooting occurred amid a heightened awareness of attacks on law enforcement officials in the United States. Two prosecutors in Texas were killed in separate shootings, one in January and one on March 30, and the Colorado prisons chief was shot dead at his home on March 19.
A witness to the West Virginia shooting, who did not wish to be identified, said Crum, 59, was shot at least three times through the open window of his car as he was eating lunch.
Crum, a former magistrate, took office as sheriff at the beginning of the year. He started a campaign called Zero Tolerance to clamp down on local drug trafficking, which centers on illegal prescription drugs.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund said 28 officers had been killed in the line of duty in the United States since April 3, 2012, including 13 killed with firearms.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Grant McCool)