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.

Local father’s emotional heart-warming talk with daughter goes viral

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 3:08 PM

Man talks to kid posted on Facebook

A video of a Kettering man consoling his daughter has gone viral with its positive message. Randy Gaines didn't know his wife, Deceena Gaines was recording him at the time, but neither of them knew the video was going to reach over 3.2 million views by Monday afternoon. 

On Dec. 2, Gaines found his 6-year-old daughter upset in her room because he had teased her by calling her a name after a book he reads to her, "Moody Moose Buttons." Gaines said his family of six are very playful and like to tease each other. "We are very close," he says. 

Gaines said he began to talk with his daughter and got her to open up about what was bothering her. He discussed with her how to handle her emotions and to talk with him in the video. 

>>Salvation Army of Hamilton has shortage of Red Kettle bell ringers

Gaines said he thinks the story is viral because, "It's an open, honest, genuine moment that was very personal and positive. I don't think you see a lot of that in the media or online. Most people aren't used to seeing this parenting style. People all over the country are reaching out. A lot of people have said they didn't receive this as a child and are going to do this for their kids." 

The local father is honored, humbled, and flattered with all of the positive feedback.

Witness recalls rescuing child in crash that kills 2 in Greene County

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 12:08 PM


A 911 call details what witnesses saw just minutes after a vehicle crashed through a fence killing two people, including the efforts to save a child from the vehicle.

“My husband is trying to get into the car right now,” the female caller told dispatchers.  “There’s a baby crying.”

For several minutes, the caller tells the dispatcher what she and her husband, John Bright, saw Saturday as they searched through the wreckage.

“They’re trapped,” the woman said, describing the two victims who ultimately died in the crash.  “Someone who was driving by this stopped to help us as well.”
MORE: Child survives double fatal crash in Greene Co.; Victims ID’d

The crash was reported around 5 p.m., when snow was falling in the 3100 block of Ohio 380 in Spring Valley Twp. The vehicle involved crashed through a fence, overturned and crashed into a tree.

Bright was one of the people on the scene trying to help pull the child out from the vehicle.

“The first thing I could just hear was the baby crying,” Bright told this news outlet Monday afternoon.  “Our first priority was to get that baby safe.”

Carl A. Perry, 49, of Xenia, was identified as the driver of a 2004 Ford F-Series pickup truck who was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Linda J. Davis, 73, also of Xenia, was taken with life-threatening injuries to Miami Valley Hospital, where she died, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Xenia Post.

IN DEPTH: Nearly 2 dozen people killed so far this year in Greene County traffic crashes

The child, the lone survivor in the crash, was taken to Dayton Children’s Hospital with injuries not believed to be life threatening.

“We have the child out,” the woman said in the call as the people helping on scene pull the child to safety, adding that the child was crying she said.

State troopers said the child was restrained in a child seat.

Perry was wearing a seatbelt, however troopers said Davis was not.

Bright was thankful he and his wife, who is a nurse practitioner, were home and were able to help.

“We had just gotten home from some Christmas shopping,” he said.  “We were just thankful we were actually here.”

Vandalia council to discuss ranges amid shooting grounds controversy

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 2:49 PM

            The Miami Valley Shooting Grounds. STAFF
The Miami Valley Shooting Grounds. STAFF

The Miami Valley Shooting Grounds owner will need to obtain a new zoning designation from Vandalia before reopening his indoor range, and is prohibited from reopening the outdoor range at all, according to city documents.

On Tuesday, city leaders will discuss the future of all other shooting range applications in Vandalia after implementing a six-month moratorium on new applications.

MORE: Vandalia moratorium won’t stop shooting grounds’ bid for new permit

MVSG, located at 7771 Johnson Station Road, is zoned as agricultural land and was only allowed to use the indoor range in association with the outdoor range. But now that the outdoor range’s permit application is denied, the range inside is no longer legally allowed to be used.

The range’s attorney, Timothy Rudd, said he believes the city is intentionally making the range’s reopening difficult. Rudd maintains his client, range owner Dana Tackett, has made improvements to the range and that an independent evaluation confirmed the outdoor range’s safety.

“There seems to be a common thread in terms of people wanting to end shooting for one reason or another,” he said.

Vandalia Police Chief Douglas Knight said in a letter to Tackett that “required supervision was lacking” at the outdoor range, and that a “promise and policy regarding enhanced supervision in the future is not persuasive.”

“It is my opinion that the issuance of the requested permit for shooting at MVSG’s outdoor ranges would be detrimental to the health, safety, welfare and morals of the city,” Knight wrote the range’s attorney.

MORE: Shooting range posed threat to public, chief says in letter revoking permit

The chief also said that “since the time of the issuance of the original permit, there have been substantial changes in the surrounding neighborhood, with construction of more residential dwellings.”

Short of seeking an administrative appeal from the courts, the decision on the outdoor range is final and will not be reconsidered, Vandalia law director Gerald McDonald wrote in an email to Rudd.

Following the controversy, Vandalia city council issued a six-month moratorium on issuing permits for shooting ranges, as well as permits to discharge a firearm within city limits.

The moratorium has no affect on the MVSG, city spokesman Rich Hopkins said, but would impact new applications for ranges in the city. But the shooting range is encouraging patrons on its website to attend the meeting to “ask the city council for transparency and honesty about what is truly driving the city’s recent actions.”

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Vandalia Municipal Building.

MORE: Vandalia cop ‘retreated’ as bullets whizzed overhead

In September, the Dayton Daily News and News Center 7 revealed a Vandalia police officer said he “retreated behind” his cruiser when responding to a Sept. 7 call over errant bullets from the shooting grounds.

The officer’s superior said it “was obvious … that the shooters were a threat to public safety and not in compliance with the permit” the police chief issued in 2007, according to the officer’s report.

A neighbor of the range, Jamie Spencer, filed a lawsuit against the range the next day alleging stray bullets from the range flew onto his property. The range denied the claims in the lawsuit, which is scheduled for trial in September.

Event to thank first responders for life-saving work this year

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 2:13 PM

            From left, Five Rivers Metroparks Police Chief Mark Hess, Dayton Fire Department Assistant Chief Nicholas Hosford, Scene75 CEO Jonah Sandler, and Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Executive Director Hellen Jones-Kelley announce “Supporting the Shield Appreciation Days” at Scene75 this month. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF
            Katie Wedell
From left, Five Rivers Metroparks Police Chief Mark Hess, Dayton Fire Department Assistant Chief Nicholas Hosford, Scene75 CEO Jonah Sandler, and Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Executive Director Hellen Jones-Kelley announce “Supporting the Shield Appreciation Days” at Scene75 this month. KATIE WEDELL/STAFF(Katie Wedell)

Local firefighters, EMTs and police officers who have been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic throughout a challenging year will get a special thank you this holiday season via some free family time at Scene75 Entertainment.

The entertainment complex off Interstate 75 is partnering with Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services to host “Supporting the Shield Appreciation Days” on Dec. 26, 27 and 28.

All first responders who work for agencies in Montgomery County will get free game vouchers, free pizza and other perks to give them a fun-filled day with their family.

“This opioid epidemic has made for a difficult year in the county,” said Nicholas Hosford, assistant fire chief with the Dayton Fire Department. This year their personnel went on 3,000 emergency calls above the average, he said, mostly due to opioid overdoses. “Those calls take an emotional toll… they carry some of that stress back to their families,” Hosford said.

RELATED: Soaring overdoses strain emergency crews from neighboring cities

According to the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, there have been 570 accidental drug overdose deaths in the county this year. Totals for June through December are still being finalized as autopsy reports are completed, but it appears the number of deaths slowed in the second half of the year.

Some of that progress can be attributed to the work of first responders, said Mark Hess, chief of the Five Rivers Metroparks police and past president of the Montgomery County Association of Police Chiefs.

“We’re not going to rest,” he said. But these appreciation days will give individual first responders a chance to unwind and relieve some stress, Hess said.

“This event gives us a chance to thank those that do so much,” said Jonah Sandler, founder and CEO of Scene75 Entertainment.

County first responders who want to attend one of the events will get instructions on how to register online or in person with ADAMHS or Scene75.

RELATED: County surpasses 2016 fatal overdose total before June

“There are times when this is a thankless job,” said Helen Jones-Kelley, executive director of ADAMHS. The agency hopes this event can serve as that overdue kudos for working with such skill and compassion during a difficult year, she said.

Both Hosford and Hess said Scene75 should prepare for some good-hearted rivalry when the area’s cops and firefighters hit the gaming floor.

“There’s going to be some competition,” Hosford said.


Heroin damages the very young, old and even non-users

Montgomery County is the national example for filmmakers and media

Fighting heroin crisis: What Ohio governor candidates plan to do

Middletown council member: Can we stop responding to overdoses?