Franklin County needs a new sheriff

The horrific story of an off-duty Franklin County Sheriff’s deputy allegedly murdering his ex-wife turns out to be even more tragic: The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received warning of the deputy’s intent in time to stop him, but Sheriff Ewell Hunt decided to try handle the situation quietly instead. He failed.

The Roanoke Times has the story this morning, a blockbuster that appropriately took up most of the front page. Radio logs from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Salem police and the Virginia State Police confirm the sequence of events: At 11:07 Monday morning, Franklin County dispatch heard from Deputy Jonathan Agee’s current wife that he had left in his patrol car with an assault rifle to go kill his ex-wife. At 11:15, Sheriff Hunt told dispatchers not to issue a “be on the lookout” call that could have alerted police throughout the area. Instead, he called Salem police dispatch at 11: 18 and asked to talk to a supervisor. A supervisor returned his call at 11:31 – a minute after Agee’s ex-wife was shot to death at the Orange Avenue Sheetz in Roanoke.

“I thought I could get the fastest response by making personal contact,” Hunt told The Times Tuesday. That’s stupid. Why wait for a supervisor to call back when you can get the word out to multiple law enforcement agencies in the area with a single radio call? Unless Hunt was less interested in speed and more interested in attempting to keep an explosive and potentially embarrassing situation for his department quiet, his actions made no sense at all.

This is not the first time Hunt has exhibited ludicrously poor judgement, it’s just the first time that poor judgment apparently resulted in another person’s death.

Hunt should have resigned before. He most certainly should resign now.

Update: As Joshua points out in the comments, there is now a Facebook page called “Sheriff Ewell Hunt Must Resign.” There’s also an online petition for people outside of Franklin County. There’s an actual petition circulating for Franklin County voters to sign that could actually result in Hunt’s removal. If you live in Franklin County, I hope you can find a way to get your John Hancock on there.

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