• Deputies arrest convicted felon wanted in Burke County shooting

    By: Dave Faherty


    BURKE COUNTY, N.C. - Deputies have arrested a man wanted in connection to a Burke County shooting.

    Last Thursday afternoon, Burke County deputies and officers from the Burke County Narcotics Task Force and the Morganton Department of Public Safety investigated a tip on Hawkins Drive.



    Responding officers said David Arrex Burleson, 38, was outside when they arrived and that he ran into the woods. Authorities said they pursued Burleson and that he was arrested after officers commanded him to stop running.

    Deputies told Channel 9 they believe Burleson took off running because he couldn’t use his pickup truck to get away.

    According to officers, Burleson was unarmed, but he had a powdery substance in his mouth.

    Officers said they requested Burke County EMS to the scene, and Burleson was transported to Blue Ridge HealthCare Morganton to be evaluated for possibly taking drugs. Deputies said he also had numerous scratches and cuts from being in the woods overnight while trying to elude police. 

    Officials from the Burke County Sheriff's Office said Burleson was released from the hospital on Oct. 15 and is now in the Burke-Catawba District Confinement under $200,000 secured bond.

    Burleson's first appearance in court is scheduled for Oct. 16.

    Burleson is suspected of having shot and injured 51-year-old Scotty Vess Wednesday night on Denton's Chapel Road.

    Vess was flown to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. Authorities said he is improving and may get out of the hospital soon.


    Neighbors said Burleson was doing renovations at the home where the shooting happened.

    Deputies believe Burleson ran from the scene. 

    Investigators said tips flooded in once word spread that Burleson was convicted in Avery County of voluntary manslaughter in 2003 and served a seven-year sentence.

    Burke County Sheriff Steve Whisenant said he didn’t take any chances warning the public and sending out Burleson’s photo in the wake of the shooting.

    "(It was) A major priority because citizens were concerned,” Whisenant said. “He is armed and dangerous, and he has a history of being armed and dangerous."

    Residents of Burleson’s Morganton neighborhood told Channel 9 they’re glad he’s back in custody.

    "It's pretty scary for the neighborhood,” neighbor Eric Stewart said. “He needs to be put in jail before someone else gets hurt."

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