Clark County deputy killed in mobile home park shooting

Residence where standoff happened destroyed by fire. Sheriff: ‘Keep the Yates family in your thoughts and prayers.’

A veteran Clark County Sheriff’s deputy was shot and killed Sunday as he responded to a report of a person shot inside a mobile home in Harmony Twp., officials confirmed late Sunday.

Matthew Yates, a 15-year member of the department, died as a result of the shooting, Sheriff Deborah K. Burchett said fighting through tears.

Deputies and other law enforcement could not get to 41-year-old Yates for hours after he was shot. When they did get him out, the mobile home caught fire and was destroyed.

“Please keep the Yates family in your thoughts and prayers, and please keep my sheriff’s office in your thoughts and prayers,” the sheriff said.

No additional details were released, but family members of the man who lived in the mobile home said a relative had gone to check on the man, who was having mental health issues. They said the man shot her and then at deputies. Those family members said the two people also died in the incident, which ended with the mobile home fire.

‘They were met with gunfire’

Burchett said a 911 call at 10:51 a.m. Sunday reported that an unknown woman had broken into a residence and had fired five to six shots.

When deputies arrived and attempted to check the interior of the residence, “they were met with gunfire,” Burchett said.

Yates went down inside the residence, and Clark County Special Operations Team members and other area tactical teams were called in to attempt to rescue Yates, she said.

Yates was a valued member of the Special Operations Team, Burchett said.

The sheriff did not take questions and said agents from the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation are handling the shooting investigation. BCI agents routinely investigate shootings involving law enforcement.

The incident happened 1100 block of Ashwood Drive, which is in the Harmony Estates Mobile Home Park, near Interstate 70 and U.S. 40 east of Springfield and about 3 miles west of South Vienna.

The shooting sparked a massive police presence and a standoff that ended with law enforcement storming the trailer to retrieve the wounded deputy and the home catching fire.

Emergency personnel loaded Yates into an armored vehicle about 2:30 p.m., then took the deputy to medics who treated Yates before CareFlight took him to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton.

A procession of law enforcement vehicles headed to the hospital in Dayton after Yates was removed from the mobile home and flown to Dayton. Dozens of cruisers lined the area Sunday night at Miami Valley Hospital to show support for the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.

Family: Shooter ‘snapped’

In separate interviews, two people who said they were related to the man in the mobile home offered details of what they said happened.

Clark County resident Barry Espy was at the scene and said his great nephew, Cole Matthew White, was responsible for the shooting and was believed dead. Espy’s niece, Jody L. Arbuckle, also was believed to have died in the home, Espy said.

Law enforcement did not confirm Espy’s comments.

Two body bags were seen outside the mobile home about 6 p.m. Sunday.

James Myers said he was White’s brother, and his account corroborated what Espy described.

On Sunday morning, Arbuckle went into the house while speaking on the phone with her wife, and just before shots rang out, the wife heard the man say, “I’m sorry,” Espy said, noting that he doesn’t think anyone else was in the home.

“He lost his mind or something, snapped, I don’t know what happened,” Espy said.

White had been living alone for years, after his grandmother died and he inherited the home where the incident occurred Sunday, Espy said. He’s been working to support himself, but for reasons unknown, White distanced himself from his family, his great uncle said.

His brother had been dealing with mental health issues, Myers said.

“The world only knows him in the last four hours, and this was not that man,” Myers said of his brother. “He was a great person, very loving and caring.”

‘We heard a lot of gunfire’

Neighbors reported several rounds of gunfire from the mobile home about 12:30 p.m.

At least five shots also rang out about 1:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon as deputies and other area police departments worked to end the standoff.

Peggy Dennin, an area resident, said, “We just had a lot of cops coming in and we’ve heard a lot of gunfire. SWAT teams are everywhere.”

About 1:40 p.m., another deputy was removed from the scene after injuring his leg as he tried to avoid gunfire from the mobile home. That deputy was not shot, officials said, and was alert.

The mobile home in which the incident occurred caught fire and was destroyed.

Two CareFlight helicopters landed near the scene and were on standby for hours as law enforcement sought to end the standoff and retrieve anyone wounded.

Dozens of other departments assisted at the scene included Springfield police, Greene County police departments, Dayton SWAT, the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s special unit and the Dayton bomb squad.

Residents take cover, help officers

The mobile home park features well-kept properties, and several residents there offered those responding to the crisis water or kind words.

A nearby resident said she and her family, totaling six people, could not evacuate their home and described some of the activity that happened.

Officers were using vehicles of residents as shields, said the woman, who asked to remain anonymous. She said several shots were fired about 12:30 p.m., and SWAT officers later appeared to use flash-bang style weapons and armored personnel vehicles near the mobile home where the shooting happened.

Because it was hot, officers rolled water bottles along the ground to each other while maintaining their positions, the woman said.

Jim Carr, a Harmony Estates resident and next-door-neighbor to the mobile home investigated by deputies and SWAT, said homes were evacuated in the area while he was away from his residence Sunday.

Carr’s brother-in-law, who was at Carr’s house at the time, evacuated with Carr’s dog.

He and others living in the area waited hours to be able to re-enter their homes, watching police activity from a distance.

The man said he’s lived in the area for 23 years, and during that time he’s seen “nothing like this.”