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
Samantha Yowler and Matt McQuinn(submitted)

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.

8 places to soak up fall’s beauty near Dayton

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Fall is here, and the perfect time of year for walks, hikes or bike rides to soak up all of its beauty.

You can never go wrong at John Bryan State Park in Yellow Springs, of course.

>> 7 things we can’t wait for this fall in Dayton

Amid peak fall color, hikers walk the Pittsburgh-Cincinnati Stagecoach Trail in John Bryan state Park that follows the course of the Little Miami River and is wide enough for two people. John Bryan near Yellow Springs is considered by many to be the most scenic state park in western Ohio.(JIM WITMER)

But what about our other parks?

>> Why a drive through this state park needs to be on your bucket list

We turned to Five Rivers MetroParks for their top picks on the best places to enjoy fall foliage. 

Here are 8 places to visit courtesy of Lauren Lemons, community engagement coordinator, for the parks.

Contributed by MetroParks(Jordan Hart)

Germantown & Twin Creek MetroParks: Home to the 22-mile Twin Valley Backpacking Trail and miles of other trails, crossing a variety of terrain and habitats and offering scenic views to take in fall’s color pop. 

Contributed by MetroParks

Taylorsville MetroPark: The trails in East Park offer spectacular views of the Great Miami River, a rock outcrop and more. 

Contributed by MetroParks

Englewood MetroPark (East Park): Take the green trail to the beautiful cascading Patty, Oak, and Martindale waterfalls and check out the surrounded by fall foliage. 

>> Our favorite fall color views

Contributed by MetroParks

Sugarcreek MetroPark: Follow the orange or green trail to the site of the “Three Sisters,” three impressive ancient white oak trees, and then continue along the trail to experience the warm colors surrounding the Osage orange tunnel. This tunnel was created by the large arching branches of old Osage orange trees and is perfect for a quick fall family picture. 

Contributed by Metroparks

Hills & Dales MetroPark: Unique structures, beautiful monuments and towering autumn trees make Hills & Dales MetroPark a must for leaf peepers. The Adirondack-style shelter that overlooks Dogwood Pond is a beautiful place to check out fall foliage. Hike the 1.4-mile Adirondack Trail, including a loop around beautiful Dogwood Pond and a boardwalk through a forested wetland. 

Contributed by Metoparks

Carriage Hill MetroPark: Experience fall in the 1880s at the historical farm, then hit the trails to see the trees and prairie pop with warm fall colors. 

Contributed by Metroparks

Possum Creek MetroPark: Follow the purple trail through the Argonne Forest and discover beautiful woodlands — as well as the remnants of a 1930s- and 1940s-era amusement park known as the Argonne Forest Park. 

Huffman Metropark / Contributed photo(Frank Portner)

Huffman MetroPark: Grab a mountain bike and experience the fall color along the trails of MoMBA. For those who don’t have the great, Five Rivers MetroParks offers bike rentals on Saturdays through the end of September. Learn more.

>> The best places for a hike near Dayton

>> 7 fall festivals in Dayton we love

Fall foliage reports and a fall color event calendar is available on the ODNR website (http://fallcolor.ohiodnr.gov/).

Best driving tours to experience fall’s beauty? Click here.

>> Dayton hikers share where to go for best fall colors

Where are your favorite fall hikes, drives or bike rides? Send us your picks at contact@dayton.com.

Teen struck, killed by train in Miamisburg; suicide not suspected

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 8:08 PM
Updated: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 9:47 AM

A teenage boy was confirmed deceased tonight when medics arrived at the scene of a pedestrian who was struck by a CSX train hauling lumber.

UPDATE @ 10 p.m.

A Norfolk Southern train struck and killed a teenager tonight, but Miamisburg police Sgt. Josiah Keefer said police do not believe it was a suicide.

The 16-year-old boy was hit just after 7:40 p.m. on the railroad tracks near the 400 block of East Linden Avenue. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Police did not release his name or whether he was a Miamisburg student.

The train has been stopped since the crash, and will block crossings possibly until midnight as police investigate. Pearl Street was one of the few crossings that was open.

FROM SCENE: Teen killed when struck by train in Miamisburg

Police earlier had portions of the train taped off. As news spread of the accident, some mothers came down to ask officers if their child was hit. Others came to the scene to offer support for friends and family of the victim.

>>>Man whose body pulled from creek told 911: ‘I’d rather be humiliated than dead’

“Our hearts and our prayers are with them and I don’t think any of us can truly say we understand what they’re feeling but that doesn’t mean that our hearts and our prayers won’t be with them,” said Glenda Mesta of Miamisburg.

The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office has taken the teen’s body. He has not been identified pending notification of family.

Download our free mobile apps for breaking news and weather

UPDATE @ 8:20 p.m.

A teenage boy was confirmed deceased tonight when medics arrived at the scene of a pedestrian who was struck by a train hauling lumber.

A friend of the victim called 911 to report the incident, according to the Montgomery County Regional Dispatch Center.


A pedestrian was struck by a train tonight in Miamisburg.

The incident was reported at 7:40 p.m. in the 400 block of Linden Avenue. The train has stopped, which is blocking streets in the area.

Dayton to activate red light cameras in October, officials say

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 1:48 PM

Dayton traffic could begin Oct 1.

Dayton’s red-light and speed detection cameras will be activated as soon as Oct. 1, but the city will not start citing motorists for violations captured on tape until a month later. 

During the month of October, the city will issue warnings to drivers who were caught running red lights or speeding by 10 automated traffic cameras at five locations in Dayton.

RELATED: Cities can turn red light cameras back on, court rules; state threatens to fight back

But beginning Nov. 1, motorists will be mailed $85 fines if they are caught on camera breaking the law. 

City officials said traffic cameras save lives and prevent injuries and property damage, and additional cameras at new sites may be activated in the future.

RELATED: Dayton’s red light, speed cameras will run 24/7 without police present

Camera sites were chosen based on data showing vehicle crash locations and types. Cameras will be located in the following locations:

  • West Third Street at James H. McGee Boulevard (three red light cameras)
  • North Gettysburg Avenue at Fairbanks Avenue (two speed cameras)
  • North Main Street at Siebenthaler Avenue (one speed camera)
  • South Keowee Street between East Third Street and East Fourth Street (two speed cameras)
  • South Smithville Road at Linden Avenue (two red light cameras).

Additional camera locations may be activated in the future. The Dayton Police Department's mobile "speed trailer" and hand-held speed cameras are also used as needed. 

The city's use of traffic safety enforcement cameras is designed to save lives and to prevent injuries and property damage, according to the release. There has been a 40 percent increase in vehicle crashes in Dayton since 2014, which corresponds to the period the previous camera program was shut down, the release said. 

MORE: Dayton ranks among fastest-growing cities for immigrants

In 2016, there were more than 4,000 crashes on Dayton roads, resulting in more than 1,000 injuries and 31 fatalities. These deaths and injuries were preventable, the release said. 

 "Public safety is always our top priority," said Dayton Police Chief Richard Biehl. "Camera enforcement is very effective in reducing accidents in high-risk areas."

MORE: ‘You can get a better life,’ one immigrant says of Dayton

The city originally planned to launch a more limited traffic camera program that would have required police officers to be stationed at the devices while in operation. 

But a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court overturned restrictions requiring sworn law enforcement officers to be present at the cameras in order for cities to cite violations documented by photo or video. 

Critics have accused cities such as Dayton of using cameras primarily to generate revenue, a claim that Dayton officials and leaders have strongly denied.  

In 2016, more than 4,000 crashes occurred in Dayton, which resulted in more than 1,000 injuries and 31 deaths. 

Officials say motor vehicle crashes are preventable and traffic camera enforcement deters risky driving behaviors.

Iconic Blue Turtle Toy Store set to have grand re-opening

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 4:25 AM

Blue Turtle Toys in Oakwood will close in May 2017 unless owner Carolyn Meyer can find a buyer. LYNN HULSEY/Staff
Staff Writer
Blue Turtle Toys in Oakwood will close in May 2017 unless owner Carolyn Meyer can find a buyer. LYNN HULSEY/Staff(Staff Writer)

Blue Turtle Toy Store will be hosting a grand re-opening Sept. 23 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The store was resold in July after the previous owner announced her retirement. 

During the event there will be a store-wide sale, and customers can enter to win a variety of prizes. Blue Turtle is located at 2314 Far Hills Ave between Triangle and Peach Orchard Avenues.

For the past two months, the store has been open but was undergoing cosmetic changes and a replenishing of its inventory. 

Blue Turtle has been a landmark in the Shops of Oakwood since 1999.