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.
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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.

Three tornadoes, zero injuries: ‘It’s a miracle,’ fire chief says

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 5:46 PM


            A tornado damaged businesses in Park Layne in Clark County on Wednesday night. MARSHALL GORBY / STAFF

Clean-up efforts began Thursday after severe weather ripped through the Miami Valley overnight, bringing an outbreak of tornadoes in the north and severe flooding in the south.

Three tornadoes struck Wednesday night — two in Clark County and one in Miami County — the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday, but warnings were issued in Greene, Warren and Preble counties too.

WATCH: 6 videos that show the intense Wednesday storms

No injuries were reported.

“I was extremely surprised,” Bethel Twp. Fire Chief Jacob King said. “It’s a miracle.”

His township included the hardest-hit area, Park Layne, where a confirmed EF1 tornado (with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour) ripped through a Sunoco Gas Station and damaged the Mel-o-Dee Restaurant, Family Dollar and Motor Sports of Dayton.

FORECAST: More severe weather could come this weekend

King said rescue crews had to free a woman from the Family Dollar on South Dayton-Lakeview Road.

“We received a call of a person trapped inside the Family Dollar who said they couldn’t get out of the bathroom of the storage area because the doors were jammed shut,” King said. “Our crews arrived on the scene, did a rampant assessment of the facility, forced entry and was able to rescue that one occupant from the building.”

The person was unharmed, King said, and he was happy to find out no one was hurt during the storm.

RELATED: Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks because of broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged. The beloved Clark County restaurant has been open since 1965 and is known for its broaster chicken and other dishes made from scratch.

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants were back in business after the storms caused closures.

Another EF1 tornado (about 90 miles per hour) was confirmed about five miles southeast of Piqua.

An EF0 tornado (with maximum winds of 75 miles per hour) tore branches off trees and threw them onto and through mobile homes at McMahan’s Mobile Home. Residents reported extensive damage, including holes in roofs that allowed water to pour right in.

PHOTOS: Aftermath of destructive storms, tornadoes

Residents said they were alerted to the danger by watching Storm Center 7 coverage on WHIO-TV.

“I was watching the news, watching Channel 7 news, and it showed it coming this way and I was looking and said, ‘it’s coming right for this mobile home park,’” said one resident. “That’s when I went outside, the rain stopped and got real calm, and that’s when it hit.”

In Butler County, storm damage included thousands of gallons of water in flooded basements.

Firefighters rescued 15 people, eight adults and seven children, after high water trapped them at Sebald Park in Madison Twp., Butler County Wednesday. Crews said high water cut off access to a bridge in the park, trapping multiple people in the high water.

Those trapped in the park included a pregnant woman and people with medical issues, according to Madison Twp. Fire Department Chief Kent Hall.

Hamilton resident Rebecca Lee called 911 when heavy rains swept up her green Honda Odyssey on Wednesday night between Tabor and Cleveland avenues.

“I got to get out of my car or I am going to drown soon,” Lee said to dispatchers. “I am going to have to get out or die. There is water up to my waist, and it is getting worse and worse.”

Ben Johnson, who lives on Taylor School Road, said he felt “shear panic” as the storms blew through, flooding his basement, destroying appliances and knocking out a door in the basement. He lost a washer, dryer, refrigerator, video games and couch.

“Everything in the basement is gone,” he said after putting on waders.

Staff Writers Parker Perry, Allyson Brown, Jim Ingram, Wayne Baker, Rick McCrabb and the Breaking News Team contributed reporting.

STORM CENTER 7 WEEKEND FORECAST

Friday: The day will begin dry with pleasant conditions. Highs will reach the middle 70s with some sunshine early. Scattered storms will develop toward late evening and continue into Friday night. A few storms could be strong as they arrive before weakening late Friday night.

Saturday: Most areas should be dry in the morning, but isolated storms could be triggered in the afternoon. Scattered showers and storms could develop into the evening. Some storms could be strong or severe. Highs will be in the 80s with muggy conditions.

Sunday: Scattered showers and storms move through the first half of the day. A few storms could be strong, possibly severe. The eastern Miami Valley may still have a few storms around late afternoon. The area dries out into the night. Daytime highs will be around 80 with still-muggy conditions.

Monday: At least some portion of Memorial Day should be dry, though another front will approach that could trigger a few showers or storms in the evening and into the night. Highs will reach the middle 70s with sunshine and scattered clouds.

Tuesday: Expect a mix of sun and clouds with a passing shower possible. Highs in the middle 70s.

3rd tornado confirmed in Miami Valley

Published: Wednesday, May 24, 2017 @ 9:53 PM
Updated: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 7:22 AM

Two tornadoes have been confirmed in Clark County and one in Miami County.

Tornadoes were confirmed in the following locations:

  • EF-1 confirmed in Park Layne
  • EF-0 confirmed near Medway
  • EF-1 confirmed near Piqua

UPDATE @ 4:08 p.m.:

The National Weather Service has confirmed a third tornado touched down near Medway in Clark County.

Maximum sustained winds for the tornado were 75 mph and it was said to be on the ground for 500 yards, the weather service said.

The tornado touched down on Lower Valley Pike near Princeton Drive, just southwest of the I-70 and Ohio 235 interchange.

Several manufactured homes sustained roof and siding damage and two large trees fell on and destroyed homes on Cordova Drive at McMahan’s Fairview Terrace Mobile Home Park.

RELATED: Multiple mobile homes damaged by downed trees in Clark County

Several homes on Wellington Avenue had mud splattered on the north or east side of the homes, showing evidence of rotation, the weather service said.

According to the weather service, carports and awnings also were destroyed.

The damage quickly lessened in strength further to the northwest with minimal damage along Jason Drive and no evidence of damage by Amy Dee Lane, NWS said.

UPDATE @ 3:46 p.m.:

A second tornado was confirmed by the National Weather Service approximately five miles southeast of Piqua.

The weather service said the maximum winds for the tornado near Piqua were estimated at 90 mph.

UPDATE @ 3:36 p.m.:

A tornado that caused damage in Park Layne and southeast Miami County had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was on the ground for nearly four miles, the National Weather Service said.

Officials said the tornado first touched down in the western side of Park Layne as an EF-1 tornado, where damage occurred to some commercial buildings and trees.

RELATED: Businesses damaged in Park Layne

The maximum width of the tornado was 300 yards.

Additional tree damage and minor roof damage occurred along Bellefontaine Road to the northwest, the weather service said.

Sporadic damage, primarily to trees, was found farther to the northwest, ultimately ending along Ohio 201 north of Studebaker Road.

The damage near Studebaker Road was consistent with wind speeds of an EF-0 tornado, the weather service said.

Officials are expected to release additional details later this afternoon.

An EF-1 tornado is classified with wind speeds between 86 to 110 mph and an EF-0 tornado has wind speeds of 65 to 85 mph.

UPDATE @ 2:56 p.m. 

Bethel Twp. fire department official gave an update on the damage at Sunoco gas station. The hazard has been secured and no fuel was lost. The fuel tank valves have been secured.

Also, there are six families being assisted in this area of Park Layne.

There has been extensive damage to roofs on homes along Osborne Road, according to Bethel Twp. fire. The department was able to use a drone in the daylight to get a clearer picture of the damage. 

Clark County EMA is handling the damage assessment. 

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants are back in business after the storms caused closures. 

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks due to broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged. The Family Dollar that was damaged will also remain closed. 

Tom Hale, Clark County building official, said several businesses remain without power. 

UPDATE @ 10:06 a.m.

The National Weather Service has confirmed an EF-1 tornado hit Park Layne Wednesday night.

The weather service estimated maximum winds for the tornado at 100 mph.

Additional details, including the path length and width on the Park Layne tornado will be released later today, NWS said.

UPDATE @ 9:49 a.m.:

The National Weather Service storm survey teams have arrived in Park Layne and are beginning their surveys of suspected tornado damage in Clark, Greene and Miami counties.

>>PHOTOS:  Storm damageStorms, funnel clouds

The National Weather Service will be out today to survey damage in Greene, Clark and Miami counties to determine the number, strength and exact locations of tornado touchdowns.

Two survey teams will begin today in Park Layne and then those teams will split up, with one going to Miami County and the other going to Greene County.

>>VIDEO: Funnel cloud over Fairborn

In a statement issued early this morning, weather service officials in Wilmington said some of these damage reports, reported by whio.com and News Center 7, include:  

  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base security forces are checking for damage. “At this time, we do not know if a tornado touched down or not” on the base, spokeswoman Marie Vanover said. WPAFB weather casters issued a tornado warning at 8:33 p.m., which was extended twice more. An “all clear” has since been issued, she said.
  • In Greene County, several trees and power lines were reported down near Dayton Xenia and Trebein roads in the Xenia area.
  • In Miami County, a tornado may be responsible for barn debris, trees and wires in the street the 8000 block of Bellefontaine Road, according to the National Weather Service. The road is closed, according to the Miami County Sheriff’s Dispatch.
  • In Miami County, trees and power lines down in Bethel Twp. at Bellefontaine Road, between U.S. 40 and Palmer Road.
  • In Beavercreek, a tornado may be possible for several trees and power lines reported down near Dayton Xenia and Trebein roads, according to the National Weather Service.
  • In Beavercreek, a tornado may be responsible for several trees down along Dayton Yellow Springs Road near Fairborn. 
  • In Miami County, two homes with structural damage near highway 201 at Studebaker Road.
  • In Miami County, Deweese Road at Peterson, closed because of power lines and trees down.
  • In Montgomery County, trees were reported down in the 8300 block of National Road

It is believed that a tornado or multiple tornadoes were responsible for the damage in certain locations in these 

counties, weather service officials said.  

There may be additional locations that require damage surveys that aren't listed above, weather service officials said. 

“We will be in contact with emergency managers from the affected counties to determine a specific plan for damage surveys, as well as assess the need for additional surveys in other locations,” weather service officials said in the statement.

INITIAL REPORT

Several tornadoes are being reported in Greene County tonight.

Here are some of the reports (all of these reports have to be verified by the National Weather Service):

>>RELATED: Xenia graduation at Nutter Center disrupted

>>VIDEOS: Sirens, wall clouds in Greene

  • One has been reported in Fairborn, reported by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base
  • One has been reported, by weather spotters to the National Weather Service, in southwest Miami County
  • Another in the area of U.S. 35 at the split with the U.S. 35 Business Route near Xenia
  • Near Jeffersonville and the Jackson Twp. line in eastern Greene County

Jason Slyger, of Sabina, said he saw a tornado touch down near Jeffersonville and the Jackson Twp. line about 8:30 p.m. 

"You see the storm, you see a V and all of a sudden you see debris in the air," he said. 

We are hearing no reports of damage of injuries. 

We have been fielding reports of funnel and other threatening clouds. 

We will continue to update this report as warranted. 

 LISTEN: 911 caller, ‘A tornado went right over my car’

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 4:29 PM

A confirmed tornado that caused damage in Park Layne and southeast Miami County had maximum sustained winds of 100 mph and was on the ground for nearly four miles, the National Weather Service said.

You can listen to 911 callers describe what they were seeing from an up close perspective. One caller says, “A tornado just touched down, it went right over my car.”

Officials said the tornado first touched down in the western side of Park Layne as an EF-1 tornado, where damage occurred to some commercial buildings and trees.

Beloved restaurant forced to close after damage from tornado

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 10:35 AM

UPDATE:

Mel-O-Dee restaurant has posted a message to concern customers to its Facebook page. 

EARLIER: 

The Mel-O-Dee restaurant could be closed for up to three weeks due to broken air conditioning units and a structural truss damaged.

A nearby Family Dollar that was damaged will also remain closed.

>>WATCH: 3 areas showing the aftermath of last night's destructive storms

Larry Shaffer, Clark County Combined Health District, said eight of 10 restaurants are back in business after the storms caused closures. 

There are also six families being assisted in this area of Park Layne.

FIRST REPORT: 

One of the region’s most beloved restaurants has been forced to close in the aftermath of a confirmed tornado Wednesday evening.

>> MORE: Classic Dayton restaurants you have to try and love, including the Mel-O-Dee

>> MORE: Why customers can’t get enough of Mel-O-Dee Restaurant

>> PHOTOS: See the damage to the Mel-O-Dee Restaurant

The Mel-O-Dee Restaurant at 2350 S. Dayton-Lakeview Road in Park Layne near New Carlisle announced on its Facebook page this morning that it would be closed “until further notice” because of the damage.

>> WATCH: 6 videos that show the intense storm damage

>> PHOTOS: Aftermath of storm damage

The beloved Clark County restaurant has been open since 1965 and is known for its broaster chicken and other dishes made from scratch. 

No one at the restaurant was injured.

>> MORE: National Weather Service confirms tornado in Park Layne