Daily Egyptian

How Tim Beaty saved two lives before losing his

Friends of Tim Beaty said he was an excellent drummer. (Provided photo)

By Tyler Davis, @TDavis_DE

As gunmen opened fire at a party in Carbondale on March 27, two SIU student-athletes, frozen in fear, were caught near the crossfire.

Thanks to the quick, selfless actions of Tim Beaty, those two women lived to tell the story.

Beaty, a 41-year-old father, did not. Police said he was simply hit by a stray bullet. That narrative became more complex after SIU students who were with Beaty as he died came forward with more information days after his death.

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“We wanted [his family to know] that he died helping somebody,” one of the students said. “That could have been me or my friend, and I take that really, really seriously. What if we weren’t there? That maybe wouldn’t have happened to him — he would have been positioned in the house totally different. I don’t want it to go out that he died in a bed just because of a stray bullet. He was a hero that night.”

But if you ask any of the people who waited in a line that stretched out the doors of Walker Funeral Home at his wake, this completely showed Beaty’s character.

“What he did the other night was not something he had to think about,” his mother, Kittie McMillan, said. “It was just his nature.”

The altercation that led to Carbondale’s first homicide of 2016 started shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday at a party at 402 W. Walnut St., but spilled into neighboring yards.

MORE: Man suspected in Tuesday shooting connected to Sunday’s shooting

Police originally reported that Beaty, a popular local drummer who performed in a dozen different bands, was killed as an uninvolved bystander.

But details about his final minutes alive paint the picture of a very involved man, trying to save two strangers on a night when another person had been shot just minutes earlier.

“It’s important for [Beaty’s wife] Jessica and [Beaty’s 5-year-old son] Jacob to know that Tim was a hero,” McMillan said. “Anybody that knew Tim looked at him that way anyway. Even before Easter Sunday.”

Three of the five SIU student-athletes who last saw Tim Beaty alive talked to the Daily Egyptian about that night. The students, who wish to remain anonymous because of their coach’s orders, also shared their experience with police.

The three seniors will be referred to as Amy, Linda and Frank.

Frank explained his hesitation in coming forward with this information.

“We didn’t want to tell anyone until we were sure it was [Beaty],” he said. “When we saw the picture in the newspaper, we said that looks like the same person.”

All three said they were worried they’d be questioned as suspects, but Amy said police have not made any indication that they will be treated as such.

She said she saw the first shooting inside the home where a party of easily more than 100 people was taking place for the Phi Beta Sigma graduate fraternity. After a man, later identified as Nehemiah Greenlee, was shot, and a stampede pushed the party outside, the three students estimate at least 15 to 20 more shots were fired.

MORE: One suspect in Sunday’s shooting turns himself in

Linda was searching for her sister right before the gunshots began as Beaty sat on his porch watching the terror unravel.

Time slowed, the trio said. Seconds felt like minutes, minutes like hours. They each heard multiple guns fired in rapid succession.

“He’s the one who actually pushed us into the house,” Linda said of Beaty. “The whole time he just kept tell us ‘stay down, stay down, stay down,’ and then all the sudden, we didn’t hear anything anymore.”

She said when the nearly two dozen gunshots stopped popping, the two women checked on Beaty, who had collapsed to the floor. He was still breathing but unresponsive.

Linda said she was crying as her friend called for an ambulance for the long-haired rocker.

She said her friend told the police dispatch at 2:11 a.m. to send an ambulance to Beaty’s home, but the person on the other end said there was already one en route. She believes the dispatcher thought they were at the home at 402 W. Walnut St., but because she did not know the address of either house, she could not verify where the ambulance was headed. Beaty was eventually pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital of Carbondale at 4:20 a.m. Sunday.

Don Beaty, Tim’s father, said in such a chaotic scene, he could understand how there could have been confusion.

“I don’t know all the facts, but I talked briefly with one of the girls, because she came to the visitation,” the retired math teacher said.

Frank and Amy, who hid behind Beaty’s house during the shooting, ran into the home to find their friends. That’s when they saw him sprawled on the floor.

“He was still breathing when I got there, for sure,” Frank said. “He was moaning when I got in there.”

No blood was seen by any of the senior student-athletes who entered the house and searched for a wound.

Amy even said when they told police about Beaty’s actions, the officer said there was minimal blood and that he was not surprised they did not know Beaty had been shot.

Don Beaty said the wound his son suffered may have been too devastating regardless of medical attention.

“Going off the coroner’s report, I doubt even quick action could have saved him,” he said.

Amy said she was told Beaty suffered a single gunshot wound to his chest.

An unknown woman from the party next door would join the group and told the students she thought Beaty was simply dehydrated and needed water.

With the lack of blood and more friends to meet outside, the group left the house.

Even though Don Beaty said he does not think the students did anything wrong that night, leaving Tim’s side is a decision each of them regrets.

“He saved my friends’ lives and that means a lot to me,” Amy said while fighting tears. “I just wish there was some sign that he was hurt. We had people in there helping, but I would not have hesitated to get him help if we knew [he was shot]. I just feel like we can’t bring him back, but this is our chance to kind of bring a little closure to the situation as best as we could.”

Frank also said he should have helped Beaty more.

“I let one person say, ‘Oh, he’s drunk, he needs some water,’ and the fact that I didn’t see blood allowed me to just walk right out the house,” Frank said putting his face into his palms.

He said thinking of his own father made him speak up.

“I would hate to know that if my father would have done something as courageous as that, people would just write in the newspaper that he got hit with a stray bullet while laying in bed,” Frank said. “Or my dad’s friend saying, ‘It’s not like such and such to be at a fraternity party’ when he really wasn’t even at a fraternity party. He was being genuine, being kind, being helpful.”

At her son’s visitation, where everyone from Carbondale Mayor Mike Henry to Beaty’s grade school teachers showed up, Beaty’s mother said she did not blame the students for their actions.

McMillan, who lives in Caruthersville, Mo., understands why the athletes would leave the house and appreciates their coming out with the story.

“They felt that they had to let people know,” McMillan said. “While it doesn’t make the loss of my son any easier, it kind of helps to know he didn’t die in vain. He died doing what I would have expected him to always be the one to do, which was to help somebody.”

MORE: Friends remember Tim Beaty

Both parents said they’d miss the great father that Tim turned out to be. Don Beaty said his son had a job in electronics after getting his degree from Lincoln College of Technology following Jacob’s birth.

He was recently promoted at his job at EMAC Inc., and tried to see his son every day even though they did not live together, Don Beaty said.

McMillan said Tim dreamed of raising his son in Carbondale.

The city full of loud music, dive bars and temporary residents. The city that until his dying day, Beaty considered home, his mom said.

Wherever Jacob calls home as he grows up, he will have no shortage of legendary tales of his father.

McMillan said that’s fitting for a kid who idolizes the likes of Superman and Spiderman.

“His daddy loved wrestling; Jacob loves all the superheroes,” she said. “For a little boy who loves superheroes, it’s pretty awesome to know that your daddy was one.”

For Linda, Tim Beaty is much more than a hero.

“He was my angel that night,” she said.

Tyler Davis can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3398.

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