Sheriff says suspect stole Spartanburg County deputy’s gun after fatally shooting him
MOORE, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - On Friday, the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office held a press conference to release new details in the investigation into the deadly shooting of Deputy Austin Aldridge.
Around 3:20 p.m. on Tuesday, deputies were called to a domestic incident on Chaffee Drive in the Oak Forest subdivision. Sheriff Chuck Wright said a woman at the home was assaulted by Duane Heard.
When Spartanburg County Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge knocked on the door to talk to Heard about the report, Wright says Heard shot Aldridge in the head.
After the shooting, Sheriff Wright says Heard stole Deputy Aldridge’s gun, Taser and keys before fleeing the scene.
Deputy Aldridge was taken to the hospital where he sadly passed away around 9:26 p.m. on Tuesday.
Officials followed Heard and tried to stop him near Anderson Mill Road and Highway 290, but said he acted like he was going to surrender before firing at deputies again. Thankfully, no deputies were injured during this exchange of gunfire.
Heard wrecked his vehicle near the Keurig Dr. Pepper plant and ran into the woods. SWAT agents and K-9s were called in to locate Heard in the woods where he was arrested.
According to deputies, the suspect was shot twice during one of the incidents, but it was unclear where he was hit. He was transported to the hospital for treatment.
SLED issued warrants charging Heard with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime. Heard was arraigned on Thursday. The solicitor’s office said he will have a bond hearing at a later date.
This was not Heard’s first run-in with law enforcement.
Deputy Aldridge was just 25 years old. He was a former student at North Greenville University and served the Spartanburg County community as a deputy for three years. Austin’s wife, Jessica, also attended NGU.
On Wednesday, North Greenville University lowered flags to half-staff on its Tigerville and Greer campuses in memory of its former student. The flags will stay lowered until Monday, June 27.
North Greenville released a statement on the passing of its former students:
“We grieve at the loss of Deputy Aldridge, even as we pray for his wife Jessica and their families,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “NGU equips transformational leaders for church and society, and these leaders are prepared to offer Christ-like service no matter where they are called. We are grateful for his sacrificial service to our community. His desire to serve with distinction was well-known to all. He loved Spartanburg County and serving under Sheriff Wright in particular. May God have mercy on us all as we seek His face in the midst of this tragedy.”
Deputy Aldridge was described as a loving husband, son, friend, and partner to many in a GoFundMe. The GoFundMe was made to help with the unexpected expenses related to the deputy’s passing and the coming months ahead.
Aldridge was an organ and tissue donor. His body was transported from Spartanburg Regional on Wednesday to Columbia, where officials said his donation will go to help dozens of people.
“True to his servant’s heart, Austin was both an organ and tissue donor,” sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Kevin Bobo said. “He is being transported from the hospital to Columbia for that procedure, and approx. 70 people will benefit from his generous donation.”
Neighbors on Chaffee Drive described the scene as “totally unusual” for the area. Wallace Burnette described seeing a deputy lying on the porch of a home near his.
The Greenville County Sheriff’s Office posted a message on Facebook saying, “As this situation in Spartanburg unfolds PLEASE keep our brothers and sisters at Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office - Sheriff Chuck Wright in your prayers.”
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division sent agents to the scene to investigate the shooting, which is standard protocol.
SPARTANBURG COMMUNITY REMEMBERS DEPUTY ALDRIDGE
Neighbors are rallying around the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office during their time of grief.
Sheriff Wright spoke highly of the young deputy calling him a fine young man.
“I would have been proud to call him my son. Good, good young man. I never had a problem with him; smiling all the time. He loved people,” said Wright.
FOX Carolina spoke with a few people who dropped off flowers and other items where Deputy Aldridge’s patrol car sits draped in black ribbon.
“They’re hurting, this is a loss of their direct family member… we all feel what they’re going through,” said Peggy Settle, a Spartanburg resident.
According to Sheriff Wright, people started coming to the memorial at 10 in the morning on Wednesday to offer prayer, well wishes and love.
“Just them knowing that people have their back, and that they believe in what they do,” said Heather Carraway, a Spartanburg resident.
Officers from surrounding agencies also stopped by to pay their respects.
A candlelight memorial is planned for Friday at 8:30 p.m. outside the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office to honor Aldridge.
A memorial of balloons, flowers and notes is growing outside the sheriff’s office.
Governor Henry McMaster held a press conference on Wednesday to talk about his budget vetoes, but opened the speech with a statement about Aldridge.
“I spoke to Sheriff Chuck Wright, he was a fine young man,” McMaster said. “I ask everyone to keep his wife and family in your hearts and prayers.”
Stay with FOX Carolina for updates on this developing story.
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