Pair Convicted of Shooting Sheriff's Deputy
At 11:00pm on June 6, 2017, Officer Davis with the Forest City Police Department initiated a traffic stop of a pickup truck. In the truck were three or four people. The driver, a female, stopped and got out of the truck, but as the officer approached she got back in and sped off. Officer Davis ran back to his car to initiate a chase, and officers with Forest City Police Department and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office assisted. Deputy Burgess of the Sheriff’s Office caught up to the fleeing truck, which was driving at a high rate of speed, on Highway 74 Business approaching Ellenboro. After they passed through Ellenboro a man in the truck began shooting at Deputy Burgess with a rifle, firing approximately 15 rounds. Deputy Burgess was hit multiple times in his head, face, and neck with glass from the windshield and shrapnel from the rounds impacting his vehicle. Deputy Burgess pulled over and other officers stopped to provide medical assistance until an ambulance arrived and took him to the hospital. Meanwhile, other officers continued with the chase but lost sight of the vehicle.
Law enforcement began an extensive investigation to identify those in the truck. They discovered that the truck was stolen in South Carolina but the license plate was stolen off a similar truck in Cherryville. They ultimately determined that the driver of the truck was Susan Abernathy, the shooter was Joshua Warren, and also in the truck were Abernathy’s two young children. Abernathy and Warren, who were both residents of South Carolina, had numerous warrants out for their arrest in that state. With the assistance of the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office and the United States Marshalls, Abernathy and Warren were taken into custody in South Carolina.
The two were prosecuted for their South Carolina crimes, and then at the beginning of this year were extradited to Rutherford County to face charges arising out of the chase and shooting of Deputy Burgess. Warren was convicted at the end of March in Rutherford County Superior Court and Abernathy was convicted last week. For his role as the shooter, Joshua Warren was sentenced to 20 to 25 years in prison. For her role as the driver, Susan Abernathy was sentenced to 8 to 10.6 years in prison, to run consecutive to a two year federal sentence for a total of 10 to 12.6 years.
The District Attorney’s Office thanks the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and the Forest City Police Department for their hard work and tireless efforts on this case and helping to bring these two to justice. We also commend Deputy Burgess for his courage, dedication, and professionalism in returning to duty shortly after this event and continuing to proudly protect the people of Rutherford County.