He regaled patrons and bartenders at Mulligan’s Brick Bar on Allen Street with tales of flying for the British military.
But Matthew Mills, 46, was known to police from Florida to Tennessee to Buffalo for domestic abuse complaints brought by his longtime girlfriend, Natalie Thompson, 45.
The couple’s stormy relationship came to a violent end Tuesday morning when Mills fatally shot Thompson on an Allentown street and then shot himself in the head with a high-powered rifle.
The couple, who had recently married, were found at about 7:40 a.m. in the middle of College Street, Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said. Their bodies were a short distance from 45 College, where they shared the front lower apartment. Mills was lying on top of Thompson.
Their deaths capped a long history of domestic abuse.
“You really can’t control domestics,” Derenda said. “If she would have left him a while back, maybe we wouldn’t be where we are. This is tragic that she could not escape the abuse. Unfortunately, these things can happen anywhere, whether here, Florida or Tennessee.”
Police, who responded Monday evening to 45 College on a domestic call, believed the couple was recently married after a long-standing relationship. Upon arriving at the scene, police discovered Mills had fled. He apparently went back to his home Tuesday morning after learning Thompson had made plans to return to Florida.
Derenda said an order of protection against Mills had been issued in Tennessee and remained valid.
It could not be determined when Buffalo police discovered the order of protection, or whether the order was secured before or after their marriage.
Mary Travers Murphy, executive director of the Family Justice Center, believed the order is enforceable in Erie County.
The center on Main Street offers support and resources to victims of domestic violence, who are often so traumatized they are unable to make logical decisions, Travers Murphy said.
“Understand that victims are severely traumatized,” she said. “It’s all about control. Perpetrators are extremely talented at the power and control game. The trauma undermines a person’s ability to think clearly and to function.”
Travers Murphy added that because of the trauma, victims return to abusive relationships an average of seven to eight times before they leave for good.
The portrait of Mills as a chronic abuser stands in stark contrast to the man many in Allentown called “English Matt.”
Mills would often regale patrons and bartenders at Mulligan’s Brick Bar with old stories from the years he said he spent overseas flying for the military in his homeland of Great Britain.
Barkeep Matt Horrigan has heard a fair share of yarns told over the bar at the Allen Street watering hole.
Monday night – the last night Horrigan would see his customer alive – the two exchanged greetings at the nearby Holley Farms. It was shortly after 8 p.m. and Horrigan was on his way home after finishing his shift at the bar.
Less than 12 hours later, “English Matt” would be dead.
“It’s a tragedy,” said Horrigan. “It’s out of character in my eyes. Natalie would come in with him on a few occasions.”
Neighbors on lower College – between Allen and Virginia streets – said the couple was friendly and could often be seen sitting in front of their apartment drinking cocktails.
“They drank a lot but they were nice people,” Millie LoTempio said. “They didn’t bother anybody.”
Curt Rotterdam said he and a friend were sitting down to morning coffee when gunfire shattered the quiet neighborhood.
“We heard boom, boom, boom and after a delay, another boom. I said, ‘What the heck?’ and we went running outside,” Rotterdam said. “I ran down the street and saw a body. At that time a police car was already rolling up.”
Last summer, a domestic dispute between a man and woman arguing inside her Allentown apartment also ended in violence with the boyfriend pulling a gun and firing it twice at an acquaintance who had stopped to console the young woman.
The bullets missed the acquaintance, but one struck another man standing outside the Old Pink bar at 223 Allen about a hundred feet away, critically wounding the unintended victim.
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