‘This is going to be a hard week.’ Friends, family mourn beloved deputy killed in line of duty

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Clark County Sheriff’s deputy Matt Yates will be remembered for his generosity and dedication to his community and family.

Yates, 41, was killed in the line of duty on Sunday following a shooting at a mobile home park in Harmony Twp. outside Springfield. On Monday, condolences poured in from many in the county and state.

“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,” said Randy Smoot, who had known Yates since kindergarten.

He described his late friend as someone who was just part of the neighborhood, part of the community and was understanding.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Yates served as a deputy for 15 years and followed in his father Eugene Yates’ footsteps, who retired from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. Yates was a well respected figure in the community and was known for his generosity, something that was common in his family, one lifelong friend recalled.

Smoot said he grew up in Springfield with Yates and both graduated from Springfield South High School in 1999. They spent a lot time together as children and kept in touch as adults. Both stayed in the community and Smoot said that he even ran into Yates’ wife at the Clark County fair over the weekend before Yates’ was killed.

“He was one of a kind. He was the most down to earth, humble, outgoing law enforcement agent. I think a lot of it had to do with the way his mom and dad raised him. It was just how he was,” Smoot said.

Yates was married and had one daughter and two stepsons. Yates was an avid sports fan who followed the New York Giants, loved basketball and was very involved with his three children.

“I was 8-years-old when he and my mother met. From then on, he just took me and my brother in as if we were just one of his own kids. He raised us from that point on. He was basically the only father figure we ever had,” said Yates’ stepson Anthony Reed.

“He was the first person to teach me how to do basically everything from how to drive a car, shoot a basketball, to mow the lawn,” Reed recalled, crediting his stepfather for making him the person that he is today.

In a Facebook post following his stepfather’s death, Reed described Yates as goofy, fun, loving and caring.

“Most of all, Yates was a father to me and I am blessed that I ever had the luxury of knowing him,” Reed wrote.

Yate’s cousin Dion Green said the deputy had always been about family and would help people out with anything.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“This is going to be a hard week in Springfield. He was the community. As we grew up, everyone knew us. For him to protect and serve in his hometown, that is the only thing that gives me closure, he was doing what he loved to do,” Green said, noting Yates love for the community and his profession.

“I am still hurt that he is not here anymore. It’s just unreal,” Green added.

In addition to family and friends, officials and law enforcement agencies across the region and state reflected on Yates and offered their condolences.

“Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and colleagues of fallen Clark Co. Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matthew Yates as they deal with his tragic line of duty death. Our officers will wear mourning bands on their badges to honor Deputy Yates’ sacrifice and service,” read a statement by the Dayton Police Department.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost described Yates as someone who ended his watch “taking dangerous action in the face of evil, going to the rescue of someone else.”

In a Facebook post Monday, Clark County Prosecutor Daniel Driscoll described the day Yates’ lost his life as horrible and said that the deputy’s death was “a senseless tragedy and a tremendous loss to this community.”

“He was the one person who, if you saw him out in public or at a scene, you would always make your way over to him,” Driscoll said. “You knew, with Matt, that you would be greeted with a huge handshake, a bigger smile, and you would leave feeling better having shared even a minute with him.”

About the Author