Mourners flocked to a Springfield church to pay their respects Sunday for a Clark County Sheriff’s deputy who lost his life in the line of duty and who has been remembered for his kind heart.
Matthew Yates, 41, was shot and killed July 24 while responding to an incident at Harmony Estates Mobile Home Park. In the days that followed, many in the community, across the state and around the nation have offered their condolences to Yates’ family and to local law enforcement.
A visitation on Sunday at First Christian Church was open to the public and law enforcement. Mourners filed past the open casket, which is black with gold lines on it like a sheriff’s cruiser and which includes Yates’ No. 60.
The public visitation followed a private event reserved for family and close friends.
After Yates’ death, flags in Ohio were ordered flown at half-staff and many residents in the community shared stories and encounters they had with the veteran deputy, who was known for his laugh, calm demeanor and empathy.
“No words can or ever will put into context of what he meant to his family, friends and community. Matt not only did an excellent job of protecting Clark County and being a light in the dark, he always went the extra mile and was always ‘on duty,’ ” said Ross Elliott, a cousin of Yates.
“Matt was always doing something to help someone else, even when he wasn’t in uniform. Every time I would talk with Matt or see him, he always had words of positivity and kind gestures,” Elliott said.
Yates was killed while responding to a shots fired call at a mobile home in Harmony Twp., east of Springfield between U.S. 40 and Interstate 70.
A funeral service will be held for Yates Monday at First Christian Church beginning at noon with a burial to follow at Ferncliff Cemetery. A livestream feed of the service will be offered.
The processional from the church to the burial site is expected to follow Middle Urbana to Ohio 334 west to U.S. 68 south, then Ohio 41 east to Ferncliff Cemetery.
Road closures will occur for the procession Monday afternoon at:
- U.S. 68 northbound ramp to Ohio 41
- U.S. 68 northbound and southbound ramps to Ohio 334
- Ohio 41 between Upper Valley Pike and Bechtle Avenue.
Mourners wishing to pay their respects are expected along the processional route. Fire trucks with raised aerial ladders are expected to display the American flag.
Yates was shot inside the mobile home as deputies responded to a shots fired call. Law enforcement officials have not said who was responsible for the shooting, but family members of the mobile home resident said Cole White shot his mother, prompting the response from deputies. White then shot Yates.
Relatives also said White later fired additional shots from inside the trailer to keep police at bay as an hours-long standoff developed.
Shortly after special operations forces forced their way into the home to retrieve Yates, the mobile home caught fire and was destroyed.
The bodies of White, 27, of South Charleston, and his mother, Jodie Arbuckle, 47, of Springfield, were discovered after the fire.
Arbuckle went to check on White that day after repeated unsuccessful attempts to reach him, family members said. White had mental health issues prior to the shooting.
Yates had been a deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for 15 years. He grew up in Springfield and graduated from Springfield South High School in 1999, according to childhood friend Randy Smoot.
“He was so humble and so compassionate and giving. He has been that way his entire life. He never met a stranger. He smiled every time you saw him and just loved life. The reason that we are seeing this emotional outpour from the community is because (Yates) literally has been like that his entire life,” Smoot said.
Yates followed in his father Eugene Yates’ footsteps by going into law enforcement. Eugene served the same sheriff’s office before retiring.
Survivors include his parents, his wife, Tracy, two sons, Anthony and Andrew Reed, and a daughter A’Kaylehana Yates.
Fundraising efforts and memorials have also been set up in order to support Yates’ family. The deputy’s cruiser was been parked in downtown Springfield and was covered in flowers and messages.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office has organized a GoFundMe to raise money for the Yates family. It has raised tens of thousands of dollars. Employees of Navistar’s Springfield plant have also raised over $5,000 for the fallen deputy’s family.