‘I broke down’: Ex-wife of fallen Hardin Co. deputy describes extreme heartache for daughter

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HARDIN COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The Hardin County Sheriff’s Department is mourning the loss of one of their own. Deputy Matthew Locke was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance over the weekend.

Monday, News 2 spoke with Bethany Locke, his ex-wife and mother of their five-year-old daughter. She said she and Matthew separated about a year ago.

The shooting happened around 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Clifton. Authorities approached Todd Alan Stricklin, who was armed with a gun. Officers asked him to drop the weapon, but he refused. Deputy Locke then approached the home and Stricklin shot him. Locke died at the hospital.

Locke said she got the tragic news in a phone call from his family.

“I was feeding and changing my newborn and getting him back to sleep when Matt’s mother had called me. It was between 11:30 and 11:40. It definitely wasn’t what I was expecting at all. She said he had been shot, and she was very hysterical, so I knew instantly it was not good at all. Once she said he had been shot, she said ‘he’s gone and he didn’t make it, he passed away’. I could not believe it. I broke down because we were close obviously. The first thing I thought of was our little girl because they are very close,” explained Locke.

  • Courtesy: Bethany Locke, Matthew Locke
  • Courtesy: Bethany Locke, Matthew Locke
  • Courtesy: Bethany Locke, Matthew Locke

Her daughter Riley is in kindergarten and only five-years-old.

“It’s hard to describe her, but she is five, and she is the happiest kid ever. She always tries to make the situation better, so I know this is going to be hard for her,” said Locke.

She also recalled the moment she had to tell their daughter Riley that her father died.

“As soon as I said ‘daddy got shot’ she asked how bad the injury was and at that point I had to describe to her that daddy now as a guardian angel will no longer be coming home to her,” said Locke.

Locke said Matthew was a very funny and calming person. She said their home was never full of negativity, and he was always positive.

“I couldn’t describe it, when we lived together there was always just positive vibes. There was never a negative ounce,” said Locke.

News 2 asked Locke what message she has for the man who shot Matthew.

“I just don’t understand why someone would do that. Why they would take him away from his family, not only his daughter, I mean, his mom and his dad had his stepmom and a stepdad, his brothers and sisters. He was loved. And I don’t understand why someone wouldn’t want to take someone else’s love away,” explained Locke.

Locke said she is very thankful the community has offered their prayers for his family and Riley.

“Everyone has been very supportive and checked in on her. I am very thankful. I mean it’s not about me its about his family and his little girl. I am glad the community has stepped up to show their love for his family and little girl. It means the world to me,” said Locke.

Courtesy TBI: Todd Stricklin

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