Suspect in killing of S.C. deputy took officer’s gun, TASER, sheriff says

Deputy Austin Derek Aldridge, 25, was responding to a domestic violence call


By Lyn Riddle
The State

SPARTANBURG, S.C. — The suspect in the death of a Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputy took the officer’s gun, taser and car keys after shooting him and then fled, Sheriff Chuck Wright said in a news conference Friday.

Other officers chased him. He acted like he was going to surrender, but fled again. Officers fired, striking him twice, then caused him to wreck his vehicle. He ran into the woods and was found lying on the ground, gun beside him, the sheriff said.

“Our men and women had every opportunity to fix this problem in the woods but we’re no better than him if we did,” Wright said.

Responding to people on social media who said if the suspect was black he’d have been shot to death on the spot instead of hospitalized, Wright said, “I don’t want to hear your crap.”

He said a suspect’s behavior is what prompts a deadly response. In this case, the suspect did not resist arrest.

Duane Leslie Heard, 63, has been charged with murder. He remains hospitalized. His condition has not been released.

The sheriff said Deputy Austin Aldridge’s visit to Heard’s home began with Heard’s wife, Kimberly Heard going to the sheriff’s office to report an altercation at their home.

Aldridge went to the home to get Duane Heard’s side of the story, Wright said.

“Austin helped more people than you can shake a stick at,” Wright said.

Aldridge knocked and was shot as soon as the suspect opened the door. A neighbor called 911 and confronted the suspect with a gun, Wright said.

When SWAT members found the suspect in the woods they “applied life-saving measures to a guy who had just killed one of our deputies,” Wright said.

Wright sternly responded to critics, saying, “We do it right around here. We hire civic-minded people.”

He described law enforcement as a contact sport.

“You armchair quarterbacks are going to get your arm broke,” he said.

He said he’s never before worked in a field where people think they know how to do the job better than the professionals.

“I am so proud of the men and women I get to work with every day,” he said, then later added, “We answer the calls y’all are afraid to answer.”

Aldridge’s funeral is set for 4 p.m. Sunday at The Church at the Mill in Moore. S.C.

©2022 The State. Visit thestate.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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