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Suspect Accused Of Murdering Spartanburg County Deputy Dies Before Trial

Rock Hill, SC – The alleged gunman accused of murdering Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) Deputy Austin Aldridge in June died at a hospice facility late last week.

Duane Heard, 63, was facing a capital murder charge in connection with the June 21 shooting death of Deputy Aldridge, FOX News reported.

The 25-year-old deputy was gunned down while responding to a report of a domestic disturbance.

According to the Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office, Heard was pronounced dead at a Rock Hill hospice house at 6:11 a.m. on Oct. 28, FOX News reported.

The series of events leading to Deputy Aldridge’s murder began at approximately 3:20 p.m. on June 21, when the SCSO received a report of a domestic disturbance at a residence on Chaffee Drive in the Oak Forest subdivision, WYFF reported.

Deputy Aldridge responded to the scene and knocked on the front door, at which point Heard allegedly opened the door and shot him, according to FOX News.

Investigators said Heard stole the mortally-wounded deputy’s firearm, Taser, and the keys to his patrol vehicle and then fled the scene.

Spartanburg County Sheriff Chuck Wright said Deputy Aldridge was “ambushed,” WYFF reported.

Witnesses immediately called 911 to let them know they needed help and that a deputy had been shot.

Additional deputies raced to the scene to secure the area in order for emergency medical personnel to reach the wounded hero, WYFF reported.

Deputy Aldridge succumbed to his wounds at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center shortly before 9:30 p.m. that night, Spartanburg County Coroner Rusty Clevenger said.

Meanwhile, another deputy spotted the suspect vehicle traveling down Anderson Mill Road in the direction of Highway 290.

SCSO Lieutenant Kevin Bobo said the suspect acted as if he planned to surrender during the ensuing traffic stop, but that he then opened fire on the deputy, WYFF reported.

The deputy returned fire, hitting the gunman twice, Sheriff Wright said.

Sheriff Wright said the deputy was “by himself for a while” while other deputies were responding, the Spartanburg Herald-Journal reported.

“After knowing this guy had done what he did, he didn’t back up at all,” he said of the deputy. “He kept trucking, he kept going.”

Despite his wounds, Heard continued driving down Anderson Mill Road and later crashed just prior to reaching the Highway 290 intersection, according to Lt. Bobo.

The suspect allegedly opened fire on deputies yet again and took off running into the woods.

No other deputies were injured during the exchange of gunfire, according to WMBF.

Deputies established a perimeter and dispatched SWAT and K9 units to search for him, WYFF reported.

They ultimately located Heard lying on the ground next to a rifle, Sheriff Wright said.

“Our men showed great restraint knowing that one of our guys had just been ambushed without firing any shots at him. They just arrested him,” the sheriff told reporters. “We are the good guys. We do it right and we did it right. I just ask you to pray for our deputy.”

Heard was transported to the hospital for treatment of his wounds, where he remained until being approved for discharge on Oct. 20, FOX News reported.

The alleged cop-killer was then released to the custody of the York County Detention Center.

According to the coroner’s office, Heard was moved to the hospice home after his health began to deteriorate, FOX News reported.

The Spartanburg County Coroner’s Office is handling the ongoing investigation into Heard’s death.

Deputy Aldridge served the SCSO for approximately three years, The State reported.

“He was a really good young man,” Sheriff Wright said as he fought back tears during a press conference held shortly after the young deputy’s murder.

Deputy Aldridge and his wife, Jessica, discovered just two days before his murder that they were going to become parents, according to a fundraising campaign established to help his family.

Donors contributed more than $237,000 to the fund.

Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Written by Holly Matkin


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