Bill Camelin and
Scott Roberts






Copyright 2000 The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

January 26,2000, Wednesday


LENGTH: 777 words


BYLINE: Connie A. Higgins, Dispatch Staff Reporter



Scott Roberts sat yesterday in his Columbus home, grieving for his partner and thinking about how close he came to losing his life.

"If Bill wouldn't have started the car, he (the shooter) would have shot me in the chest,'' Roberts said. "Bill saved my life.''

Roberts was talking about Bill Camelin, 38, who died Saturday at Grant Medical Center of a gunshot wound in his back. Roberts, 43, is recuperating from a gunshot wound in his knee.

The two men were shot shortly after midnight Wednesday near Whittier Street and Parsons Avenue, Columbus police said.

Roberts thinks that he and his partner of six years were targeted because they're gay.

"Everybody who ever met Bill fell in love with him,'' Roberts said. "He was vivacious and full of life. He lived every minute to the fullest.''

Roberts, a graphic artist and photographer, and Camelin, a carpenter, had lived together in Columbus until this past December.

That's when Camelin moved home to Chillicothe to help care for his parents; his father has cancer and his mother has heart problems, Roberts said. But Camelin traveled back to Columbus often.

Early Wednesday morning, they had been playing pool at Remo's Bar, a gay tavern at 1409 S. High St.

Afterward, they drove north on High Street. Camelin, who was driving, turned onto Whittier Street and stopped at Parsons Avenue for a red light, Roberts said.

Two men in a metallic champagne-colored Chevrolet Malibu pulled alongside them, Roberts said. He said the men smiled and stared.

"I felt as though they were making acknowledgment that we were a gay couple, and I felt they might be also,'' he said.

When the light changed, the men nodded their heads as if inviting Camelin and Roberts to follow. They did, and the Malibu stopped on a side street. The passenger in that car got out. Camelin pulled his car alongside, but when Roberts rolled down his window, the other men didn't say anything.

"Within a split second, the passenger appeared at my side and said, 'What do you want?,' '' Roberts said.

Camelin and Roberts began to worry that something was odd and decided to leave. Roberts said he remembers only the five to seven bullets that shattered their rear window as they drove away.

Roberts knew that they both had been shot and that Camelin was more seriously wounded.

"I asked him, 'Can you drive?' And he gave this sad look and blood gushed out his face,'' Roberts said. "When he tried to respond, blood came out of his mouth.''

He laid Camelin's head back on the seat and drove the car from the passenger's seat for three or four blocks. He then got out and ran around the car to the driver's side.

"There were people around,'' he said. "I started screaming for help, but no one would help us.''

Roberts drove on to Columbus Community Hospital. They both were transferred to Grant Medical Center later.

Columbus police describe the suspects as a light-skinned black man with a shaved head and a darker black man with light facial hair and corn rows who is 25-30 years old and about 5 feet, 8 inches tall.

Sgt. Earl Smith, spokesman for the division, said the incident isn't being investigated as a hate crime.

"Our first goal is to help solve what now is considered a homicide and find the suspects,'' Smith said. "The motivation is secondary to locating them and identifying them.''

Those with gay-rights organizations think that Camelin and Roberts were victims of a hate crime, but note that there aren't laws in Ohio that categorize a slaying that way.

Ohio's hate-crime law doesn't include sexual orientation and Columbus' hate- crime ordinance covers only misdemeanors, said Jeff Redfield, executive director of Stonewall Columbus.

"It sounds like the person shot them because they were gay,'' he said. " There wasn't anything done to reflect there was any kind of threat.''

Gloria McCauley, executive director of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, which that works specifically on issues of violence against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, said there were about 200 crimes the organization would consider hate crimes reported in central Ohio in 1998, the year of the most recent figures.

Camelin is survived by a 17-year- old son, Jan-Michael Chaney; his parents, Carl and Marian Kellough Camelin; three sisters; and a grandmother. A William

Camelin Reward Fund has been set up at Bank One, 833 S. High St.

Visitation hours will be 6-8 p.m. today at Hallers Funeral Home in Chillicothe. A memorial service will follow at 8 p.m.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call police at 614- 645-4730.

GRAPHIC: Phot, Bill Cameli

LOAD-DATE: January 27, 2000





Copyright 2000 The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

February 1,2000, Tuesday


LENGTH: 661 words


BYLINE: Connie A. Higgins, Dispatch Staff Reporter



Gay-rights organizations will call for stronger hate-crime laws at a town meeting next week in the wake of a recent attack on a gay couple.

Stonewall Columbus and the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization, or BRAVO, have scheduled a meeting to discuss the shootings of Bill Camelin and Scott Roberts. It will be at 7 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Martin Janis Senior Center, 600 E. 11th Ave.

Camelin, 38, of Chillicothe, and Roberts, 43, of Columbus, were wounded in a shooting Jan. 19 near Whittier Street and Parsons Avenue, police said. Camelin died three days later.

Based on Roberts' statements to the media and gay-rights groups, the shooting was no different from other hate crimes committed in the country, said Jeff Redfield, executive director of Stonewall Columbus.

Redfield compared the shooting to the 1998 slaying of Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student who was beaten and left to die tied to a fence.

"People have questions and want to express their outrage,'' he said.

Police spokesman Sgt. Earl Smith said he plans to attend the meeting. However, homicide detectives were not investigating the shooting as a hate crime, he said.

"Targeting gays as a hate crime is always a concern. But there are no felony hate-crime laws that would apply to a murder charge or felony charge, '' Smith said.

"We're dealing with this as a legal standpoint, not so much an emotional standpoint. Our first obligation is to remove two killers off the street, indict and prosecute them successfully.''

Representatives of BRAVO, an organization that works on advocacy and support programs for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, said

Columbus' ethnic-intimidation ordinance applies only to misdemeanors and Ohio's hate-crime law excludes sexual orientation.

"While clearly this is a hate crime, unfortunately, it can never be prosecuted as one,'' said Chris Cozad, board president of BRAVO.

She said gay-rights advocates are pushing passage of a bill introduced last March that would include sexual orientation in Ohio's hate- crime law.

Redfield said those at the meeting will be asked to participate in a letter- writing campaign to have the legislation reintroduced.

He said BRAVO and Stonewall Columbus will use the meeting "to tell the public about being alert and aware about their choices and what's going on around them.''

Roberts told police that he and Camelin left Remo's Bar, a tavern patronized by gays at 1409 S. High St., and drove north on High Street. Camelin turned onto

Whittier Street, the stopped at Parsons Avenue for a red light, Roberts said.

He said two men in a Chevrolet Malibu pulled alongside them. The men flirted by smiling and staring at them, then motioned for them to follow them, Roberts said.

Camelin and Roberts followed the two men to a side street off Whittier where they stopped. Roberts said the passenger got out of the Malibu and disappeared.

Camelin, who was driving, pulled alongside the vehicle, but when Roberts rolled down his window, the driver in the other car did not respond.

The passenger appeared at Roberts' window and said, "What do you want?'' Roberts said he replied, "Nothing, what do you want?''

Worried that something was wrong, Camelin and Roberts decided to drive off. That's when Roberts heard five to seven shots shatter the rear window of their vehicle.

Camelin died three days later from a gunshot wound to the back. Roberts is recuperating after being shot in his left knee.

"A lot of people are upset about this whole incident. Bill and Scott are both likable guys and wouldn't bother anyone,'' said Jeff Haus, a bartender at Remo's. "I

hope they catch those guys because no one deserves to die this way.''

Columbus police described the suspects as a light-skinned black man with a shaved head and a darker black man with light facial hair and corn rows who is 25-30 years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall.





Copyright 2000 The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

February 10,2000, Thursday


LENGTH: 315 words


BYLINE: Steve Stephens, Dispatch Staff Reporter



Passage of a state hate-crime law could help those grieving for Bill Camelin and help deter the kind of crime that took his life, gay-rights leaders said at a public

meeting last night.

The meeting, called in the wake of the shooting death of Camelin and the wounding of his partner, Scott Roberts, brought about 100 people to the Martin Janis

Senior Center on the state fairgrounds.

Camelin and Roberts were shot in their car on Jan. 19 near Whittier Street and Parsons Avenue.

Roberts said two men in another car seemed to be flirting with him and Camelin, but then opened fire without provocation.

"I can see no other motive than hate inspired by ignorance,'' Roberts said in a statement read at the meeting. He could not attend because he is recuperating from surgery.

Roberts called for the passage of House Bill 277, which would make sexual orientation a protected status under the state's existing hate-crime laws.

His call was seconded by Chris Cozad, board president of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.

"We're asking you, in Bill's honor, in his memory, to write a letter to your state legislator'' supporting the bill, Cozad said.

"Do it for Bill,'' she said. "We have to give his death some meaning.''

Sgt. Earl Smith of the Columbus police said detectives had few leads.

He urged those in attendance to call police with any tips or information they might have and to distribute fliers with sketches made from Roberts' description of his attackers.

"We need to work with you and need your help,'' Smith said.

Camelin's mother, Marian Camelin, also attended the meeting.

She said the hate-crime aspect of her son's death did not concern her.

"I don't care about the reason -- there's no reason for it,'' she said.

"My main concern is to catch the idiots who killed my son and punish them to the fullest extent of the law.''

LOAD-DATE: February 11, 2000









Copyright 2000 The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

January 24,2000, Monday


LENGTH: 475 words



BYLINE: Matthew Marx, Dispatch Staff Reporter



A few weeks before he was fatally wounded on the

South Side, Bill Camelin had moved to Chillicothe, Ohio, to care for his sick parents.

"He was giving up his apartment and his life in Columbus to take care of us, '' Marian Camelin, 68, said yesterday.

Her 38-year-old son died Saturday at Grant Medical Center of a gunshot wound to the torso. Camelin and a friend were shot about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday near

Whittier Street and Parsons Avenue, Columbus police said.

Investigators are looking for two men in a new champagne-colored, four-door Chevrolet Malibu with chrome sport-style wheels in connection with the apparently random attack.

One is described as a light-skinned black man with short or no hair. The other is a darker-skinned black man with hair in corn rows, 25-30 years old and about 5 feet 8 inches tall.

In a telephone interview from her home, Mrs. Camelin described her son and asked that any witnesses call police with information about his attackers.

"I hope I can live to see the day they're caught and they're punished. . . . I hope I can see him and their families suffer as much as we have. It is just a terrible thing,'' she said.

Her husband, Carl, 72, has cancer. She has heart trouble. The shooting broke their hearts and left them wondering why, she said.

Her son had left Tuesday for Columbus to participate in a dart tournament with a friend, she said.

Bill Camelin and Erwin S. Roberts had left the tournament and were taking a shortcut down a back street when they spotted the souped-up Malibu. Roberts told police they didn't know the men but were impressed by the new car and followed it at its occupants' request. The men were talking when one of them fired five or six shots into the car Camelin and Roberts were in.

"He was completely innocent,'' Mrs. Camelin said. "They weren't drinking. There were no drugs or anything going on there. They were doing nothing wrong.

"It could have been my husband and I taking a shortcut, and some idiot could have shot us.''

Camelin and Roberts drove to Columbus Community Hospital. Both were transferred to Grant's trauma unit. Roberts was treated for a leg wound.

Camelin was pronounced dead at 1:15 p.m. Saturday.

He was a licensed practical nurse who also did carpentry work, his mother said. He earned his degree at Hocking Technical College in Nelsonville, Ohio. He had served on the Twin Township Fire Department in Ross County and worked in hospitals and nursing homes.

"He worked in Friendship Village. He received a certificate for saving a co- worker's life, and he has to lose his like this,'' she said.

In addition to his parents, Camelin is survived by a 17- year-old son, Jan- Michael Camelin. He was divorced and had lived in Columbus for 15 years, his mother said.

"I just miss him so much I can't hardly think.''

LOAD-DATE: January 25, 2000