The community of Clark County, Ohio, is rallying together to support the family of a fallen officer.
Local organizations, businesses and community members pulled together to raise funds for the family of fallen Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy Matthew Yates, 41, who was killed in a shooting at the Harmony Estates Mobile Home Park on July 24.
Yates, a husband and father of three children, was a 15-year veteran at the sheriff’s office. He was killed while responding to reports of shots fired at a mobile home.
The shooter, Cole White, was killed after an hours-long standoff with police.
Clark County Sheriff Deborah Burchett said she was humbled by the outpouring of support from the community.
“Calls, notes, flowers left, donations to the family and just a handshake and ‘I’m sorry for your loss’ from someone in the public brings us to tears every time,” she said.
This year’s Clark County Fair raised funds in tribute of the fallen officer and even commissioned a woodcarving of a police flag with Yate’s unit number and name on it to be given to the family.
The artwork raised over $32,000 in donations in a community benefit auction.
Clark County Fair Executive Director Dean Blair said the fair board raised over $40,000 for Yates’ family.
“It’s showing love, it’s showing support,” Blair said. “We all knew Matt Yates out here. He always worked fair duty. He was just a big teddy bear, and the sheriff’s office is just such great friends to us.”
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office also set up a GoFundMe to raise money from the community. As of writing, the page has raised nearly $56,000.
“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, Yates’ childhood friend
Yates’ police cruiser was also parked in downtown Springfield as a memorial and was covered with flowers and heartfelt messages of condolence.
The officer’s funeral began on August 1 at the First Christian Church in Springfield. Yates’ body was transported to the church in a SWAT vehicle and saluted by officers standing by.
Sheriff Burchett offered condolences to the family in a speech and praised Yates for his heroic service and dedication to the community.
“Matthew was a warrior in law enforcement,” Burchett said.
“I don’t know where we’re going to go from here. I really don’t,” she said in an interview after the service. “But we will, we have to stand up, stand tall, and we have to remember Matthew’s memory.”
Fellow deputies also remembered Yates as a strong leader and friend.
“He gave me an example of how to carry myself in this position,” Deputy Matthew Harris said.
“You knew if Matthew was there, everything was going to be OK,” Major Chris Clark added.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine also attended the service and spoke to News Center 7 after the event.
“When a police or a sheriff’s deputy responds to a home, they never know for sure what’s inside, and they don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said. “It should be a reminder to all of us how difficult this job is.”