What should have been a simple night out with her brother and her boyfriend for Samantha Yowler was quickly transformed into an unthinkable tragedy, but one that is marked by incredible heroism.
When James Holmes opened fire on the Aurora, Colorado, theater where the 26-year-old was watching the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises with her brother Nick and her boyfriend Matt McQuinn, both Nick and McQuinn attempted to use their bodies to shield her from the bullets, the Dayton Daily News reported.
Samantha received a bullet wound to the leg and spent Friday in surgery, while Nick escaped unscathed. However, it wasn’t until his mother, Jerri Jackson, arrived in Aurora on Friday evening that she found out whether her boyfriend had lived or died. As Yowler isn’t a relative, the hospital would not disclose any information to her about the condition of the man who gave his life to save hers, stepmother Stacie McQuinn told the Dayton Daily News.
26-year-old McQuinn was finally identified by friends on Twitter as one of the 12 dead, which the Aurora Police Department finally confirmed. Meanwhile, the count of those injured in the shooting has now been raised to 58, and the dead are finally being identified.
The Yowler siblings grew up in St. Paris, Ohio, and Samantha graduated from Graham High School in 2004 before attending Ohio State University for three years. McQuinn, meanwhile, is from nearby Springfield, where he was a member of Maiden Lane Church and graduated from Vadalia-Butler High School in 2004. That same year, he and Samantha met on their job at the Springfield Target branch. They had lived in Colorado since November, when they transferred to the Denver Target branch.
Talia Kaufman-Diaz, a childhood friend of Samantha’s who lived next door to the Yowler family, told the Dayton Daily News, “She was just very, very caring. She has a lot of friends.” Though they had only recently moved to Colorado, Yowler and McQuinn were equally loved in their new home. Melissa Downen, who worked with them at the Denver Target and was a friend of theirs, told the Dayton Daily News, “They’re really fun people, we always go out together,” adding that everyone in “the Target family” was incredibly worried about the couple.
Matt McQuinn will certainly be remembered as a hero, and my heart goes out to all those who knew and loved him.