October 6, 2014

Dare commissioner Burrus
charged with simple assault


Dare County Commissioner Allen Burrus of Hatteras village has been charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, and ordered to appear in Dare County District Court on Friday, Nov. 14.

The charges stem from an incident in which an employee, John Paul Pehrson, 20, says Burrus "grabbed him around the neck with both hands and pushed him into the wall" at the Red & White Supermarket -- which Burrus owns -- on Wednesday, Oct. 1, shortly before the store closed at 9 p.m.

According to a report by Dare County Sheriff's Deputy J.A. Ray, who interviewed the alleged victim at his mother's residence shortly after the incident, Pehrson further stated that when Burrus "went to grab him, he pushed (Burrus) out of the way."

Pehrson then told the deputy that when he pushed Burrus, Burrus' hand hit his lip. He said he then ran out of the supermarket "with (Burrus) chasing him into the parking lot."

Ray wrote in his report that Pehrson had "marks on the front of his neck and a swollen lip."

Pehrson said he wanted to press charges, and, according to the report, Ray explained the Sheriff's Office's standard procedure for doing so in the case of a misdemeanor that is not witnessed by a deputy and is not a domestic incident.

That procedure is for the alleged victim to go before a Dare magistrate and swear out a warrant. A criminal summons in the case was issued on Friday, Oct. 3.  In a criminal summons, the suspect is ordered to appear in court but is not arrested.

When he was asked about the incident last week, Burrus said that he returned to the store on that Wednesday night to fire Pehrson after several customers had complained about him. 

"I fired him," Burrus said, "but I did not lay a hand on him."

Burrus, 62, who represents Hatteras Island, was appointed to the Dare County Board of Commissioners in 2006 to fill the unexpired term of the late Joseph "Mac" Midgett of Rodanthe. He was first elected to the board in 2008 and was re-elected in 2012.  He currently serves as vice-chairman.

Burrus has also represented Hatteras Island on the Dare County Board of Education.

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