Matt McQuinn's friends and family gathered Saturday morning to honor his life.
Matt McQuinn, 27, was killed in the July 20 shooting rampage in an Aurora, Colo., movie theater at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. According to accounts from his girlfriend, St. Paris native Samantha Yowler, and her brother, Nick, who was also in the theater at the time of the shooting but was uninjured, McQuinn used his body to shield Yowler from the gunfire.
Twelve people were killed and 58 were injured in the shooting. Authorities said James Holmes, 24, entered the theater and opened fire.
McQuinn's funeral service was held at the Maiden Lane Church Saturday morning. His burial at the Lawerenceville Cemertery follows the service.
For the Friday visitation, Yowler wore a black dress with a black cast around her leg and used crutches to enter the church. She is recovering from a gunshot wound and surgery to her leg.
McQuinn’s uncle Herb Shaffer of Pittsburgh said the last week has been rough for the family, but he said it’s been amazing to see the nation and the local community come together to recognize McQuinn’s heroism.
“In a moment like that, you can’t think. All you can do is react, and for Matt to immediately react and protect the one he loved showed us what great character he had and made us proud that he was part of our family,” Shaffer said.
McQuinn, a Vandalia Butler graduate, and Yowler, a Graham graduate, had discussed moving back to Ohio to be close to family, Shaffer said. Now, he said Yowler is still considering moving back home.
Since the shooting Shaffer said both families’ “thoughts haven’t even been on (Holmes).” Rather, he said, they hope everyone will remember the people who died and the sacrifices made that day.
“I hope the focus doesn’t become the trial,” he said. “But I hope our nation remembers the young men and people that were a part of that (day) and that we live our lives better because we’ve seen who they were.”
Ben Hackley, friend and neighbor to Yowler, said it’s been difficult coping with McQuinn’s death.
“I don’t think they realize that it’s real yet,” he said. “You know she’s just trying to cope with losing Matt and also being a victim herself.”
Family members said they expect many people will attend the funeral, which begins at 10 a.m. today at Maiden Lane. It’s estimated the funeral procession will leave the church between 11 and 11:30 a.m.
Escorted by local law enforcement, intersections will be blocked briefly as the procession takes Bechtle Avenue north to Ohio 41 to Ballentine Pike. The procession then will turn onto Lawrenceville Drive. Burial will be at Lawrenceville Cemetery in German Twp.
A benefit will be held Aug. 18 at the Lakeland Golf Course in St. Paris to raise money for McQuinn’s funeral expenses. Hackley is helping plan the event and said it will include several auctions.