EASLEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Dozens of people in the community came out to pay their respects for fallen Easley Police Officer Matthew Hare. People 7NEWS spoke with said this young, local hero’s life was taken too soon.
“I mean it’s heartbreaking,” said Greg Williams.
The State Law Enforcement Division has charged 25-year-old Gabrielle Benites with aggravated breach of peace.
They said she was drunk and laid down on the tracks.
Hare was one of the officers called to respond.
Officials said Benites resisted the officer’s help to get her off the tracks. SLED said because of this, Hare was hit by a train.
“Had his whole life before him and it was just cut short,” said Williams, who attended the procession.
Hare was brought back to Easley Thursday evening.
“I think everyone is taking it pretty rough right now. I think everyone’s heart goes out to the family and to the officer that was trying to save someone’s life,” said Joyce Holder, who attended the procession.
The community said they still can’t believe it happened.
“Just shocked, in disbelief, everyone’s going to come show and pay their respects the best they can,” said Nelson Proffitt.
“He’s one year younger than my youngest daughter, so it really hits home because of that. He just started his life,” stated Patricia Penson.
A lot of the people who attended the procession have loved ones who wear the badge.
“Every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed, you think of it. You think of them being out there, because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Penson.
“People just don’t realize sometimes all that they have to put up with, all they have to go through. They never know what’s going to happen through the course of the day,” said Proffitt.
Hare was hired by the Easley Police Department in October and graduated from the Criminal Justice Academy this past March.
“Everybody takes the police department for granted sometimes with everything going on in the country. We do have some good police officers and we do have some here in Easley,” said Holder.
Everyone who attended said Hare made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Maybe that girl will see that she thought her life wasn’t worth living, but Matthew thought it was,” said Williams.
SLED said Benites could be facing more charges in the future.
A memorial fund has been set up in Hare’s honor.