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SAVANNAH – Matthew Locke’s fellow soldiers in the 268th Military Police Company of the U.S. National Guard based in Ripley said he was a soldier who always volunteered for every mission he could and did so with the intention of having the best team performance possible.
So while none of them expected to hear about Locke’s sudden death after having been fatally shot on a call Saturday night, they were not surprised to hear what kind of situation he was involved in at the time of his death.
Locke, a Hardin County native who’d come up through the county’s school system, served in the National Guard, served a year in Afghanistan and returned home to work for the Hardin County Sheriff’s Department, was assisting on a domestic disturbance emergency call when he was shot and killed.
He was 30 years old with a young daughter.
Remembered by military officers
Locke was a member of the National Guard for most of the past decade, serving under Larry Griffin, Andrew Hahn and Keith Luntz at different times.
Each of them made similar statements about the way he approached his work in the Guard.
He always strove to be the best at whatever he did. If there was a mission he could volunteer for, he always did. If he could help the team complete a mission and do it with a little more excellence, he wanted to do it.
“He was better than most other soldiers I’ve worked with,” said Hahn, who is now the commander for a company in Missouri but was the 268th Military Police Company Commander when Locke was there. “He was always pushed by himself to do a little better, and he did the same for his teammates too.
“Having him on a mission with me was always motivating for me because of the attitude he brought every time.”
Luntz was the first sergeant under Hahn. He said Locke was always a stable figure within the company.
“He was always even keel, laid back and relaxed,” Luntz said. “And he was dependable and consistent.
“He was the guy that when you saw he was on the team for a mission, I was always a little more assured of the success because he was going to get it done right and do what he had to do to make sure it would be.”
Griffin teaches Algebra I at the high school. He never knew Locke when he was in school, but they had plenty of connections before they worked together in Guard duty.
One thing that sticks out to him about Locke was his knowledge of guns and weaponry.
“We’re in the military, so we know a good bit about guns,” Griffin said. “But I’m sure most of the guys – if not all – in that company would say that Locke was their gun guy.
“He loved to shoot them and loved to know as much as he could about them. They were his hobby, and he was good at it.”
Locke routinely finished with high marks in statewide competitions in shooting in the Guard and represented the company well.
Honored by his hometown
Tributes honoring Locke’s service and eventual sacrifice were posted on social media throughout the evening on Sunday and all day on Monday.
Early Monday morning, the school resource officers at Hardin County High School – from which Locke graduated in 2009 – flew the American and state flags at half-staff to honor his passing.
Hardin County Sheriff Johnny Alexander praised Locke’s service to local law enforcement and his country.
“We remember Deputy Locke for his selfless dedication, absolute courage and unparalleled commitment,” Alexander said in a statement. “Our country has lost a warrior. Our community has lost a hero. Our department has lost a brother. We will never forget Deputy Locke, and we are all forever in debt for his sacrifice.”
Locke actually started his law enforcement career in McNairy County and Sheriff Guy Buck, who released a statement to honor the fallen officer.
“Deputy Matthew Locke was taken from us while serving and protecting the citizens of Hardin County, but the citizens of McNairy County are suffering as well,” Buck said. “Deputy Locke began his career with us as a Correctional Officer in 2014 before rising to the rank of Deputy in 2015 and later worked as a patrolman in Adamsville, Tennessee before finally finding his home with the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office.
“Matthew’s entire adult life was spent in service to either his country or his community and he will be greatly missed.”
Hardin County Mayor Kevin Davis had similar statements about Locke’s service.
“It is with heavy hearts we extend our deepest condolences to the family of Hardin County Deputy Matthew Locke, Hardin County Sheriff Johnny Alexander and the courageous members of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Department as they endure the loss of Deputy Locke,” Davis said.
Todd Alan Stricklin, 48 of Clifton, was arrested Sunday morning for Locke’s shooting death.
According to a statement from District Attorney Matthew Stowe, Stricklin will be arraigned in Savannah in general sessions court in front of Judge Daniel Smith.
A bond hearing is expected to be set during the arraignment for later in the week.
Reach Brandon Shields at [email protected] or at 731-425-9751. Follow him on Twitter @JSEditorBrandon or on Instagram at editorbrandon.
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