SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – On this day last year, 25-year-old Deputy Austin Aldridge was shot and killed by a suspect while responding to a domestic call turned “ambush-style” attack in a Spartanburg subdivision.
The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office responded to Chaffee Drive, off of Anderson Mill Road, around 3:20 p.m.
Deputy Aldridge was shot as he approached the home.
“He was ambushed, he was shot,” said Sheriff Chuck Wright.
EMS treated Aldridge at the scene and was later taken to the hospital where he died the next day.
Sheriff Wright said Deputy Aldridge had been with the sheriff’s office for three years.
Suspect in deputy-involved shooting dies
The suspect, identified as 63-year-old Duane Heard, led deputies on a pursuit down Anderson Mill Road.
He continued to flee until he wrecked his vehicle and ran into the woods after firing at other deputies.
Canine deputies located Heard in the woods with two gunshot wounds lying beside a rifle.
Heard was taken to the hospital and charged with murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.
The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division also charged Heard with armed robbery, domestic violence, two counts of pointing and presenting a firearm, and failure to stop for blue lights.
On July 7, Solicitor Barry Barnette filed a notification with the court regarding the death penalty for Heard.
Heard was released from the hospital and booked into the York County Detention Center on October 20, 2022.
While in custody, Heard’s health deteriorated and he was taken to a hospice facility in Rock Hill, where he was later pronounced dead.
“Mr. Heard had suffered from injuries while the deputies were trying to subdue him,” explained Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger. “Because of those injuries, he just could not get better from those.”
Aldridge honored, named Deputy of the Year
Deputy Aldridge was laid to rest on June 26, 2022, and the funeral was followed by a procession to Westwood Memorial Gardens for his burial.
The community paid their respect throughout the year by leaving sentimental items and messages along with hosting numerous events and fundraisers for Aldridge’s loved ones.
Deputy Aldridge was named Deputy of the Year during a ceremony on November 16, 2022, in Spartanburg County almost five months after his end of watch.
The Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard presented the unveiling of Deputy Austin Aldridge’s plaque on the Law Enforcement Memorial Wall.
Aldridge was also honored at the National Police Officers Memorial ceremony along with Deputy Petey Berry who died from COVID-19-related symptoms by inscribing their names on the memorial.
Wife of fallen deputy gives birth to child
On February 22, The Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office announced that the wife of Deputy Aldridge gave birth to their child, Claire Austin Aldridge.
“The family would like to thank the community for their prayers, donations, gifts, respect and kind words,” the sheriff’s office said.
“Please continue to pray for Austin’s family, Jessica and Claire.”