Sheriff: Elgin town councilman struck his wife with a flashlight

Published: Mar. 19, 2013 at 7:17 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2013 at 7:22 PM EDT
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Norman Ernst (Source: Charleston County Jail)
Norman Ernst (Source: Charleston County Jail)
Norman "Bubba" Ernst (Source: Town of Elgin)
Norman "Bubba" Ernst (Source: Town of Elgin)

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) - An Elgin town councilman is now awaiting bond at the Kershaw County jail after Charleston County police stopped him on a warrant for assaulting his wife last week.

Norman "Bubba" Ernst, 41, was transferred from a Charleston County jail after the Kershaw County Sheriff's Office issued a warrant for Ernst's arrest for criminal domestic violence of a high and aggravated nature. Ernst was arrested by the Mt. Pleasant Police Department on March 19 at which time police found a pistol grip shotgun in his possession.

Elgin Police Chief Harold Brown said Ernst and his wife got into a domestic dispute at the family business, Elgin Quick Lube, which is located in the county limits. According to the chief, the dispute escalated, resulting in Ernst's wife suffering severe injuries.

Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews said Ernst hit his wife with a large flashlight March 16, and his wife reported a separate assault that happened March 17. The assaults resulted in Ernst's wife being treated for her injuries at Palmetto Health Richland in Columbia, Matthews said.

The sheriff's department's warrant is for the incident at Elgin Quick Lube. Elgin Police received a report for an incident at the Ernst residence, but passed it along to SLED to investigate since Ernst is an elected official.

Kershaw County deputies searched Ernst's home and found a 30-30 rifle, a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and a small amount of marijuana. Ernst is a convicted felon and is not allowed to possess firearms or ammunition. Matthews contacted the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to investigate why Ernst had firearms and ammunition as a convicted felon.

The investigation is ongoing in both assault cases.

Elgin Mayor Brad Hanley said town officials are following this case and anticipate Ernst will voluntarily resign as a town councilman.

"We have been following this information and are sorry for Mr. Ernst's wife and family," Hanley said. "At this point, the judicial system needs to take its course. We are sorting through the state law and getting legal advice from our town attorney. In the meantime, I think Mr. Ernst will eventually resign. You can't be effective at representing the people in town with this kind of charge and recent behavior. I think most people would step down voluntarily."

Ernst's current term on town council is set to end in 2015. He was elected in 2011.

His criminal background dates back to 2001, including drug charges, contributing to the delinquency of a minor and unlawful use of a telephone.

He was most recently arrested Jan. 30 by Kershaw County deputies for malicious injury to personal property.

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