Van Wert, Ohio is a fairly small town. It's not the smallest, but it's small enough to make something like a murder become headline news on every single one of our local papers and local news stations. Things like that just do not happen around here that often. We've had maybe three murders in the last 5 years and not one of them have been right next door to my apartment.
I did not know the victim or the shooter. I knew the victim's brother Casey. We went to Junior High School together years ago. I knew 'of' Christopher McMillen but didn't know him personally, just as being Casey's brother. Nonetheless, this happened so close to my family that it kind of evaporated this small town safety bubble that a lot of people close to me think that they live in. It doesn't matter where you lay down your head at night ... tragedy can still be the thing that wakes you up out of your slumber.
Before I get started I'd like to post pictures of the victim and the murderer. I'm not doing anything that every local newspaper hasn't already done but at the same time I do not want to cause anymore heartache to the family. This typically is not the style of my blog but please ... if these pictures offend anyone feel free to let me know and I will gladly remove them. The reason I want them on this blog is it makes it more real when you have a face to go with the name and not all of my readers are locals. Again, please let me know via email if this is causing any undue drama or anything like that and they will be removed as this is not my intentions.
With that being said:
|This is Chad Phillips|
|This is the life he took. Christopher McMillen (RIP)|
Chad Phillips is said to have a history of violence. I've been told by many people, including one ex-girlfriend, that when Mr.Phillips became angry he changed. He wasn't himself and went into an almost blank rage. As stated previously I do not know Mr.Phillips myself so I can not say anything for sure, I can only say what I've heard but as you can imagine ... not many people are trying to point out his good qualities (if any) at a time such as this.
Christopher McMillen was not a friend or even an acquaintance of mine. I know he had been in legal trouble before but you'd have trouble finding someone who hasn't in this city. Try living in a town completely surrounded by cornfields with nothing to do ... no arcades, no mall, no anything. Teens around here actually drive out to sit in a parking lot on the weekends uptown. They either do that or they drive out to the local Wal-Mart Supercenter and ... you guessed it ... sit in the parking lot. So yes, our city is boring and for the most part uneventful which I believe causes young people to become more prone to getting into things like drugs or alcohol or other trouble in nothing more than an attempt to entertain themselves. I've been there and have 4 Felonies on my record to prove it so never would I hold someones past against them. People change. Christopher's last Facebook update in his info section say's it better than I can. " Im Chris McMillen and 23 years old. Getting ready to go back to school and get my life back together for the good. Been down a long road and have learned alot!! Like to play video games, skateboard, and party. Pretty much a laid back kind of guy and keep to myself most of the time. "
The general consensus coming from those who were close to Christopher is that he was a very fun loving and caring person. I'm told he was the kind of guy who would have given you his coat if you were cold or would have given you a ride if he saw you walking. Basically it looks like this man gave a shit in a community where it's hard to find anyone who does. And he was taken from this world by a man who fromt he sounds of it would have stolen your coat and kicked you in the snow.
On the night this happened I heard the gunshots from my bedroom. I will never forget the sound of them being so close especially now that I know what the result was of those echoing shots. About a minute after the shots I heard banging on my door and it was my brother Jacob telling me to come outside because someone had been shot in another apartment. Even having heard the shots I didn't believe my brother. No way, I thought. Not in this town. Not so close to where I put my three year old daughter to bed every night. And then I heard the sirens in the distance...
My Mother was the first person to call 911. The brother of Christopher's girlfriend who was in the apartment when Mr.Phillips kicked open the front door along with Chad's own children and his ex-girlfriend who was dating Christopher at the time. The man banged on my Mother's door screaming to call 911 and was the definition of traumatized. It took the police a little over five minutes to show up and by that time Mr.Phillips had fled the scene. Then the medics came about two minutes after the first police officer flew into our parking lot. I watched the most horrible series of events I've ever seen soon after when the victims brother and mother arrived. It was bad as you can imagine because obviously the police would not let them go up to see Christopher. I watched as the police informed them that he was still alive but had been shot. I hope that I never have to experience anything like that myself and I pray that I never have to witness anything like that again in my life. Every ounce of compassion that I have in me went to that family at that time. It played out like a movie only worse because it was actually happening.
Flash forward a bit and Chad was arrested after our local Sheriffs department negotiated with him (he was suicidal) to come out of the house in a small town about 10 minutes from Van Wert that he had holed himself up in. Christopher was taken to our local emergency room and soon after we watched as the lifeflight helicopter flew over our homes to take him to another hospital that was more equipped to deal with something like that. Obviously, after reading the WANE article at the top of this post you know that Christopher did not make it.
There are tons and tons of rumors flying around town about why this happened. I've heard a few that make no sense and a few that do. Mr.Phillip's next court date is May 20th, 2011 and I refuse to listen to any rumors until we get to hear it from him or his defense attorney during his trial. This city is bad enough with running the rumor mills on just about everything that happens let alone something like this so I will not go into it publicly on this blog. That is not the point of this post anyways. The point is to show the facts I know for a few different reasons. One being that people will stop asking me about it everywhere I go. Two being that people need to understand this...
Life is short no matter how you look at it. People die every single day, every single minute. Every 5 seconds someone in this world dies. Nobody is ever prepared even if you have a terminal illness and your days are numbered. ALL of our days are numbered if you think about it. Make the most out of what you are given. As Christopher said on his Facebook, "Live life to the fullest". Never, under any circumstances, should we take anything or anyone for granted. I think that saying has hit home with a lot of local people after this tragedy.
As said before, I do not know the family personally but a few of us have put our heads together and came up with a way to help the family cover the costs of the funeral and everything else. We have a group on Facebook that I ask you to check out. The group is planning on selling In Memorial T-shirts and it's all non-profit. All proceeds will be going to the McMillen family. T-shirts are ten dollars each and they are currently taking orders. Obviously you don't have to buy a shirt, you can just donate money or your time to help get this all together. Just message the group admin or post on the wall to find out details of what you can do to help. If you don't have a Facebook account then get with me via this blog's comment section and I will put you in touch with the person you would need to speak with. If you do have a Facebook account then click the link at the bottom of this post and it will take you to the group that I'm speaking of.
Again, my condolences to the family of Christopher McMillen and you are in all of our thoughts. Even after something like this, life does go on and I'd have to believe that Christopher would want you to do just that. May you find peace during these troubled times.
Christopher McMillen T-Shirts (Facebook event)