Local man shot, killed in theater shooting

Published: Friday, July 20, 2012 @ 10:30 PM
Updated: Saturday, July 21, 2012 @ 6:50 AM


            Shooting victim Matt McQuinn and girlfriend Samantha Yowler.
            Facebook
Shooting victim Matt McQuinn and girlfriend Samantha Yowler.(Facebook)

In the chaos of one of the largest mass shootings in U.S. history, one local woman’s brother and her boyfriend shielded her. She suffered a bullet wound to the leg, her brother escaped physically unharmed but her boyfriend was killed.

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 58 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.

Warren Co. teen reportedly suffers serious injuries following dog attack

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 1:16 PM

Warren County Chief Dog Warden, Nathan Harper, right, and Deputy Dog Warden, Eric Hancock, keep a close eye on Warren County strays. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News
Warren County Chief Dog Warden, Nathan Harper, right, and Deputy Dog Warden, Eric Hancock, keep a close eye on Warren County strays. Jim Noelker/Dayton Daily News

Police are responding to a Ridgeville home after a teen was reporteldy bitten by a pit bull Saturday afternoon.

Crews were sent to the 6400 block of West Street after a caller reported a 16-year-old girl had suffered a dog bite. 

Initial reports indicate a family member is driving the teen to the hospital while the dog warden is called to the house. 

The teen's injuries have been described as significant, according to scanner traffic. 

Initial reports indicate the dog has attacked a family member in the past. 

Our newsroom is working to confirm multiple details in this developing story.

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

Medics requested at scene of Xenia crash involving fire response vehicle

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 12:43 PM

Police and medics are responding to the scene of an injury crash involving a fire response vehicle Saturday morning.

Crews were dispatched to the intersection of West Second Street and Progress Drive around 12:25 p.m. 

Initial reports indicate a medic has been called to the scene for an injured patient. 

Dispatchers could not confirm if the injured person was in the fire response vehicle. 

Traffic in the area is currently being rerouted, according to dispatchers. 

We will continue to follow updates in this developing story.

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

Family of Springfield woman found in crashed car looks for answers

Published: Friday, September 22, 2017 @ 8:00 PM

The family of a Springfield woman found dead in a crashed car last week says they have a lot of questions about what caused her death.

Chelsea Marie Dowler, 27, was found in a 1993 Dodge Dakota on Sept. 14. The car left the roadway and struck a tree before coming to rest in Delaware County’s Kingston Twp. north of Columbus, according to the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol, but it’s unclear when the crash happened.

She had been missing for nearly four weeks, according to her brother, Tyler Dowler.

“It’s definitely a little bit easier than not knowing,” Tyler Dowler said. “Not knowing was the worst.”

The family had filed a missing person report with the Springfield Police Department, he said, and had handed out flyers and made posts online asking for information about his sister.

“It gives us a little bit of relief knowing that she’s not in pain anymore,” he said. “She’s not suffering.”

But he said he wants more answers.

“Did she wreck? Did someone force her to wreck? Was it drugs? We’d like to know,” he said.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, said Lt. Bob Sellers with the Delaware Post of the State Highway Patrol.

Chelsea Dowler leaves behind two sons, a 4-year-old and a 6-year-old. Tyler Dowler and his girlfriend are now the guardians of the boys.

RELATED: Springfield woman found in crashed car may have died weeks ago

“Things are finally starting to come together a little bit. I think they’re happy,” Tyler Dowler said. “They don’t want to go anywhere.”

She struggled with drug addiction, he said, but was a good mother.

“She was loving you know, she had her problems as most of us do,” he said.

He wants the boys to remember their mom for the good times they shared.

“The times where their mom did nothing but make them smile,” he said, “because she would, she would do anything in her power to make them smile.”

The Springfield Police Division has closed its missing person investigation, according to Capt. Mike Varner.

The family is still in the process of making funeral arrangements.

Springboro police chief serves as chaplain during hurricane recovery

Published: Saturday, September 23, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


            Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.
Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithof photographed the devastation from Hurricane Harvey in the area around Rockport, Texas.

For two weeks, Springboro Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff offered a sympathetic ear and other assistance to first responders in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

More than 80 people died and countless injuries reported as Harvey flooded and leveled coastal and inland communities after making landfall with winds of 130 mph at Rockport, Texas, on Aug. 25.

Over the next five days, the storm flooded hundreds of thousands of homes, leaving more than 30,000 people homeless and prompting more than 17,000 rescues.

In Rockport, Kruithoff and another chaplain with law enforcement experience “debriefed” police, fire, ambulance and dispatch workers scrambling to help all the victims.

“We were really able to help a lot of people process the storm,” Kruithoff said.

“Dispatchers were terribly affected,” he recalled, sitting in the conference room at city hall. “They can’t do anything if they don’t have anyone to dispatch.”

MORE: 3rd graders read to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff was among 60 Rapid Response Chaplains sent to the disaster by Billy Graham Ministries.

The program developed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and since then, the chaplains have used their special training to assist in more than 260 crises around the world.

They bring to bear “the compassion of Jesus Christ” and “the ability to listen,” said Scott Holmquist of the North Carolina-based ministries.

MORE: Wright-Patt crews help Texas rescue efforts

“They are in the mix,” Holmquist added, gauging where those they are helping are in processing “grief due to loss.”

Kruithoff was on the ground amid the catastrophe from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10.

It was his second deployment, after supporting workers with Samaritan’s Purse, an evangelical Christian humanitarian aid founded by Franklin Graham in recovery efforts after floods in Ripley County, Miss.

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, now heads the organization’s web of faith-based programs.

MORE: How to help Hurricane Harvey victims

Kruithoff estimated he prayed with 25 to 50 workers and victims a day, in addition to engaging individuals in talks designed to allow them to work through traumatic stress that comes with experiencing such a disaster.

“We don’t come in and hit them with a Bible over the head,” he said. “We let them tell their story.”

The cathartic process typically takes five to nine such talks, Kruithoff said.

“We want people to remember the incident, but not relive the incident,” he said.

In addition, chaplains encourage those traumatized to find several things they liked before the storm, maybe golf or going for a walk, but to move on, rather than expect to return to life as before the storm.

“There’s a new reality,” he said, adding the chaplains also encourage healthy habits, including eating and drinking enough, and help work through sleep problems.

With permission, the chaplains end sessions with a prayer.

Kruithoff and Holmquist acknowledged the program offers a chance to rededicate lives to Christ.

“We will never take advantage of people,” Holmquist said. “We will use the circumstance to meet them at their place of need.”

During his Texas work, Kruithoff listened to firefighters recalling walls of their station move six to eight inches.

“They had to tie their bay doors to their fire trucks so they didn’t blow out,” he said.

Kruithoff rented a car and began driving to Houston after evacuation centers were opened there.

“I had to take some detours because of flooded roads,” he said.

At one point, he disregarded GPS directions to turn down a gravel road between Corpus Christi and Houston.

Luckily, he soon came upon a trucker who he followed “until we got to a state highway.”

In Houston, Kruithoff presented a Bible to Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo and coordinated the “faith response” to the police department and sheriff’s office.

MORE: Houston perserveres through immense loss

During line-ups at shift openings, Kruithoff would offer a prayer for officers about to go out onto the storm-ravaged streets.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen police, regardless of their spiritual faith, turning down a prayer going into a shift,” he said.

Kruithoff is part of a new group of chaplains with law-enforcement experience in the program.

When asked about the apparent contrast between police and religious work, Kruithoff said, “There were only two things I was going to be in my life, a minister or a policeman.”

Still, he acknowledged the two frames of reference sometimes conflict, placing obstacles in the way of his “faith walk.”

As Kruithoff worked in Houston, Springboro officials expressed their support and gratitude during a Sept. 7 city council meeting.

MORE: Hurricane response delays Springboro intersection work

“We commend him, we thank him and we’ve been communicating with him so that he stays safe,” City Manager Christine Thompson said.

Mayor John Agenbroad added, “That’s what America is all about, helping out when somebody’s down.”