Local man shot, killed in theater shooting

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 10:21 AM
Updated: Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 11:57 AM

            Samantha Yowler and Matt McQuinn

In the chaos of one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history, one local woman’s boyfriend was killed at a Colorado movie theater.

The boyfriend shielded her. The woman suffered a bullet wound to the leg while her brother escaped physically unharmed.

Siblings Samantha and Nick Yowler — both former St. Paris residents — were watching The Dark Knight Rises at a theater in Aurora, Colo., with her boyfriend Matt McQuinn when James Eagen Holmes reportedly kicked in an exit door, released canisters of pepper spray and opened fire.

At least 59 people were injured and 12 were killed, including McQuinn, a Vandalia-Butler graduate whose Springfield family agonized for hours Friday without knowing if he had survived or where he was.

He and Nick Yowler tried to shield Samantha Yowler with their bodies, according to the Yowlers’ grandmother, Elsie Windle of St. Paris. Nick Yowler called his mother, Ann Massie, at 3:30 a.m. to tell his family about the shooting.

“It’s been a difficult morning,” stepfather Scott Massie, the St. Paris fire chief, said Friday morning, his voice shaking before his wife boarded a plane to fly to Colorado.

Scott Massie said he spoke to his stepchildren while they were at the scene.

“Just total chaos,” he said of the reports they gave and what he heard. “Disbelief. Shock.”

Samantha Yowler underwent surgery and was reported in fair condition Friday.

Matt McQuinn’s family tried all Friday to find any information about his condition.

Springfield resident Stacie McQuinn, Matt’s stepmother, said the hospital would not confirm to Samantha Yowler what happened to him because they are not related.

“It’s minute by minute,” said Stacie McQuinn as she waited on a telephone update from his mother, Jerri Jackson, who traveled to Aurora Friday to find out what happened.

By Friday evening, the families retained attorney Rob Scott to speak for them.

“Both the Yowler and McQuinn families thank everyone for their concerns, thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” Scott said. “The families ask for everyone to be patient and respect their wishes during this very difficult time.”

Samantha Yowler is a 2004 graduate of Graham High School, where she was in National Honor Society, earned a KTH Scholarship, was a blood donor and was involved in the high school’s Special Wish program. She attended Ohio State University until 2007.

She met Matt McQuinn, a member of Maiden Lane Church who graduated from Vandalia-Butler High School in 2004, at the Springfield Target store. Target officials declined to comment.

The two transferred to a Target in Denver, Colo., in November last year. Nick Yowler had already lived in Colorado for several years, said his grandmother, Windle.

“Samantha had moved out there last November” after her brother’s divorce, she added.

At Vandalia-Butler, Matt McQuinn was part of the Occupational World Experience program, where students attend classes for a minimum of three periods a day, then work the rest of the day at a job.

“I learned how to hold a job,” he said in his 2004 senior yearbook.

Before she left, Samantha Yowler was well known in the St. Paris neighborhood where she grew up.

“She was just very, very caring. She has a lot of friends,” said Talia Kauffman-Diaz, who grew up with Samantha and lived next door to the family as a child.

Diaz, who lives in St. Paris, was with Samantha Yowler from elementary school through high school graduation in 2004. Diaz said their families were very close, and a group of friends from the neighborhood all spent time together.

“She was there for me when my parents divorced, and I was there for her when she needed me,” said Diaz, who said she didn’t know Matt McQuinn well.

Diaz said there’s nothing organized yet, but she has been trying to get in touch with other childhood friends and with the Yowlers to determine what to do to help.

“It’s just, how shocking it is to come from this small town and have someone so loving and caring have something so tragic happen,” Diaz said.

Samantha Yowler and Matt McQuinn are popular in their new home in Colorado as well. Her Facebook page was full of wall posts wishing the best for the couple from people in Ohio and Colorado.

“They’re really fun people, we always go out together,” said Melissa Downen, a Colorado co-worker and friend to the couple. She said they’ve worked at Target for about six months. Downen added that everyone working there is consumed with worry over the couple.

“Everyone here is really close, and they really integrated well with the Target family,” she said.

People in the village of St. Paris reacted with shock to the news and reached for note cards to offer comfort to the family.

“You don’t feel a connection to this area, and then it really hits you,” Teresa Roberts said while having lunch with husband, Ken, at C.J.’s Pizzeria on Main Street.

“Another maniac out there,” said a customer in the Howard’s IGA in St. Paris, where store manager Mike Townsend said that before learning of the local connection “the one thing was worried was it was a terrorist.”

“This is awful and scary,” said Cheri Howard, who was treating two grandsons to ice cream at Howard’s Dairy Barn. “All these people did was go to a movie. It could have happened in Springfield. It could have happened in Urbana, I suppose. It makes you afraid to let your teenagers go to a movie,” she said.

Springfield, following a presidential proclamation released by the White House from President Barack Obama, will fly flags at half-staff until sunset on Wednesday to honor of the victims of the tragedy.

“It’s a very tragic event that’s taken place in Colorado, and we wanted to show our support as a community,” said Springfield city manager Jim Bodenmiller.

Wire reports and staff writers Michael Cooper, Marc Katz and Mark McGregor contributed to this story.

Author J.D. Vance returns to Middletown for grads, reveals plans

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:17 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:19 PM

            Middletown High School graduate and internationally famous author J.D. Vance closed a highly personal circle in his life Tuesday when he delivered the commencement speech to graduates from his old school. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Middletown High School graduate and internationally famous author J.D. Vance closed a highly personal circle in his life Tuesday when he delivered the commencement speech to graduates from his former school.

But before he took the stage in front of the overflowing audience at Princeton Pike Church, Vance talked exclusively with the Journal-News.

The best-selling author of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” shared some details on the Hollywood movie of his life — directed and produced by Academy Award winner Ron Howard — and his hopes of bettering the white, working class Americans depicted so poignantly in his seminal book.

MORE: Middletown native J.D. Vance talks upcoming Hollywood movie

He also weighed in the recent controversy surrounding a dean from his graduate school — Yale University — who blasted “white trash” in a racist social media rant.

And he revealed his optimism in bridging the chasm surrounding the often ignored but sizable portion of America’s demographics.

A college commencement speaker in much demand since his book rocketed him to stardom, Middletown was his first high school graduation speech and it got to him emotionally.

MORE: J.D. Vance speech at Miami University Middletown brings home best-selling author

“It’s a pretty special thing to do. It’s sort of amazing to think that 14 years ago I was graduating from Middletown High School and obviously quite a bit has happened,” said the 32-year-old who now lives in Columbus. He has formed Our Ohio Renewal, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing high-quality employment and educational opportunities to Ohioans and addressing the state’s destructive opioid crisis.

“I couldn’t help but to look at the kids and think to myself what will they be thinking about in 14 years? What will they have done? What will they have accomplished? It’s a pretty exciting opportunity to close that circle for me,” said Vance.

Vance has said he was surprised when his best-selling book was embraced as a primer for national political pundits leading up to — and especially after — last year’s presidential election. It proved popular as sort of a Rosetta Stone for the country’s news media in deciphering President Donald Trump’s support among America’s poor working class.

STORY & VIDEO: Middletown author’s book helps explain President Donald Trump’s popularity

Vance has since made the national TV media rounds, expanding on one of the book’s key themes: The controlling governmental, business, entertainment and academic elites of America have little if any understanding of the significant demographic composed of this often overlooked segment of our society.

Moreover, the divide continues.

Just last week at Vance’s former college — Yale University — Dean June Chu of the school’s Pierson College was placed on leave after posting Yelp reviews calling customers at local restaurants “white trash” and “low class folks,” according to media accounts.

Vance shook his head recalling the incident.

His years at Yale were marked by persistent reminders that his poor Appalachian roots made him an anomaly there.

“When I saw that story I just thought it is unfortunately an attitude that exists a little bit too much in elite institutions. This idea that people aren’t worthwhile (or) they are not good because of where they came from, or maybe because of their accent or their approach to thinking about the world,” he said.

“That’s one of the reasons I wrote the book, because I think that attitude is very real. And it’s unfortunately something I really do think drives a divide between educational institutions’ so-called elites and a lot of folks who are just working and trying to get by. I was pretty disappointed when I heard those remarks,” said Vance.

Though he understands the media’s focus on the darker sides of his memoir — and has freely discussed his own and his family’s personal challenges — Vance said there are other, more positive pieces to the puzzle of his life he wishes would get more attention.

He was wary of running into similar prejudice among the well-documented elitist attitudes of some in Hollywood.

He turned down other movie producers for those reasons until meeting with Howard, a two-time Academy Award-winning director, whom he said understood the importance of portraying key figures in his life story beyond a two-dimensional scale.

“I was definitely worried about that. But what I really liked about Ron Howard is that he seemed to take a really compassionate and a really sympathetic eye to the problems I wrote about,” Vance said.

He hopes some of the movie will be shot in Middletown.

Which Hollywood star does he want to play him?

“Chris Pratt,” he said, laughing in reference to the popular star of the recently released “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” “So people will think I’m better looking than I actually am.”

Memorial Day weekend means ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign in full force

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 9:07 PM

The Ohio Highway Patrol is enforcing the "Click It or Ticket" program heavily this holiday weekend.

To combat the increase in the possibility of accidents because of heavy traffic brought on by Memorial Day, seat belt focus will be emphasized by troopers until the end of May. 

"Troopers see the deadly results that follow when motorists decide not to buckle up," said Col. Paul A. Pride, OSP superintendent.

"We want everyone on the road to get home safe, and that's why you should buckle up every trip, every time," he said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, almost 50 percent of occupants of fatal crashes nationwide in 2016 were not restrained. 

Troopers will be on Ohio roads encouraging drivers to monitor their speed, designate sober drivers and particularly to wear their seat belt. 

"We prioritize safety belt enforcement because of the clear evidence that buckling up saves lives," said Pride. 

>>RELATED: Crash in Springfield leads to OVI arrest

From now through June 4,  OSP will be engaged in friendly competition with Michigan and Indiana, to top them in increasing safety belt usage in the Midwest.

Ohioans can participate by using #ClickOnOhio on all social media platforms to show their state pride. That competition is part of the national Click It or Ticket enforcement program. 

From now through Memorial Day (May 29), OSP also will take part in a Six-State Trooper Project prioritizing seat belt safety. This enforcement effort includes state police in Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. 

Motorists are encouraged to dial #6-7-7 to report to OSP any type of impaired driver or drug activity.

Council approves purchase of 305 acres of research park

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 4:04 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 8:41 PM

            City of Kettering will purchase 305 acres of the Miami Valley Research Park for $1.5 million. FILE

UPDATE @ 7:50: Kettering City Council has approved the purchase of 305 acres at Miami Valley Research Park on a 7-0 vote.

Steve Johnson, president of Sinclair Community College and chairman of the Miami Valley Research Foundation, was in attendance and thanked council for their consideration of purchasing the land.

“It’s very important to us that good steward ship continue,” Johnson said. “We are so pleased that Kettering is considering this action tonight.”

EARLIER REPORT: Kettering city council is expected to vote tonight on the purchase of 305 acres in the Miami Valley Research Park.

RELATED: Kettering to purchase 305 acres of Miami Valley Research Park

Friday, the city announced its intentions to buy the land. If the purchase is approved, it could cost the city up to $3 million dollars.

The city has said acquiring the land could lead to luring new businesses and help current businesses expand within the city.

The business park spans over 1,200 acres in Kettering and Beavercreek and is home to some of the Miami Valley’s largest companies. In October, the Dayton Daily News reported that the Miami Valley Research Foundation was looking to sell four buildings and more than 700 acres of undeveloped land valued at $30 million.

MORE: Mass casualty exercise planned in Kettering

Kettering’s council meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the Government Center, 3600 Shroyer Road.

4 Miami Twp. businesses busted for alcohol sales to underage customers

Published: Tuesday, May 23, 2017 @ 8:35 PM

(Courtesy/Kevin D. Thompson/The Palm Beach Post)
Kevin D. Thompson

Four retail liquor establishments in Miami Twp. have been accused of selling alcohol to minors, the Miami Twp. Police Department said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.

The names of the businesses have not been released, but police department officials said a supervised compliance check of 11 "places that distribute alcohol" turned up the four in violation. 

The remaining locations were found to be in compliance and refused to sell to underage persons, according to the department. 

GOT A TIP? Call our 24-hour line, 937-259-2237, or send to our monitored email, newsdesk@cmgohio.com 

More checks will be made, according to the department.