Draylen Mason, only 17, was talented in so many ways. He won an essay contest when he was in 8th grade. He blossomed into a talented musician. He wanted to be a neurosurgeon someday. Tragically, a bomber or bombers took his life with a package bomb in his own family’s Austin, Texas kitchen.
Mason was the second victim to die in the package bombs that were delivered to Austin homes. He died when a package blew up in the kitchen of his Austin home, leaving his mother in stable condition. Two people have now died in four bombings that have terrorized the Texas community, and four people were injured. The latest explosion on March 18, 2018 – which injured two men pushing or riding bicycles on the sidewalk – might have been detonated by a “trip wire,” Austin police say.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Draylen Mason Was a Talented Musician Remembered for His Beautiful Music & ‘Quiet Maturity That Belied His Youth’
Draylen Mason was already an accomplished musician with college offers to show for it. According to his Facebook page, he was a Bassist at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Principal Double Bass at Austin Youth Orchestra, and Principal Bassist at Austin Soundwaves. He went to East Austin College Prep and was from Austin, Texas. In November 2017, Draylen wrote on Facebook that he had started the job with Interlochen. He was accepted already to the University of Texas Butler School of Music, The Austin American-Statesman reported.
Doug Dempster, a dean at that school, told the newspaper: “He carried himself with a kind of quiet maturity that belied his youth. The loss of any child is heartbreaking. The loss of a child with such conspicuous ambition, talent and determination is the cruelest kind of heartbreak. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, teachers, and fellow students.”
One woman who knew Mason wrote on a fundraising site for his family: “Draylen was one of the most inspiring young musicians I had the honor of working with seeing his growth and passion for music blossoming even more he returned every summer to the Sacramento Youth Symphony Chamber Music Workshop.”
Another woman wrote, “So sorry. My daughter played bass with Draylen at summer camp.”
A family wrote, “We met Draylen through bass recitals …We instantly wanted to know him more & to hear him play often. He was kind to our bassist son who couldn’t help but look up to Draylen. Our hearts go out to his family & friends.” Even people who didn’t know Draylen were moved by the tragedy. “I am an orchestral musician in Canada. We will think of Draylen as we play the great masterworks that he loved. What amazing things he accomplished. I’m thankful for the time you did have with him. Much love to you all,” a woman wrote.
One admirer wrote simply: “His music was beautiful.”
2. Draylen Was Remembered as a ‘Disciple of Christ’ & Aspiring Neurosurgeon
A YouCaring site to help Draylen Mason’s family has raised almost $100,000. “Draylen Mason, a disciple of Christ, musician, aspiring neurosurgeon, and black belt martial artist ascended to his Heavenly Father at the age of 17 due to a senseless package bomb left on his doorstep by a lost soul,” it reads.
The site explains that “Draylen was preparing for his morning workout with his mother, Shamika Wilson, when they both became victims. His grandmother, Sandra Jones, watched as he took his last breath. Our hearts grieve – we were preparing to send him off to the university of his choice, but now we are now faced with the need to plan a life celebration to honor his legacy as a member of the Austin Youth Orchestra, Austin Sound Waves and other community service organizations.”
Additionally, the page says, “the family home is extensively damaged, and before his mother and grandmother return, the physical evidence of the harm must be addressed. Your gift will help the family rebuild and re-establish.”
3. Draylen Won an Essay Contest on Racial Profiling in the Community
In addition to being an artist, Mason had a social conscience and the writing talents to exercise it – at a very young age. According to KUT.org, he won the Hispanic Bar essay contest. Former Austin council member Mike Martinez wrote on Facebook that he “had the honor to meet Draylen Mason in 2013 after he won the Hispanic Bar essay contest. His essay was on racial profiling and was so insightful and mature for such a young man. All of these tragedies are so horrible for our community. We must put a stop to this. RIP Draylen.”
KUT reprinted the essay. You can read it in full here.
It started, “Have you ever been judged because of the color of your skin or have you ever felt like the world didn’t accept you because of your ethnic background. One of the issues facing the grater Austin area is racial profiling. We have become statistical creatures and we live our lives daily based on statistical discrimination.” He was in 8th grade at the time.
4. Mason Was Remembered as a Vibrant Young Man With a “Zeal to Succeed’
Those who knew Mason remembered him for his personality as well as his musical acumen. Sam Osemene, a U.S. Government professor at Austin Community College, told The Austin American-Statesman that Mason was “a very vibrant young man, full of life, always smiling. He had what I call a zeal to succeed.”
Osemene wrote on Facebook, “I met him last year. He was my student at Austin Community College taking United States Government class. He was full of life, always smiling, caring and fondly called me ‘Dad’ due to my advise and interest in my students education. He would hug me before and after class. He invited me to his graduation. I called him Dre. It hurts. Only God knows. Sleep well.”
5. Anthony Stephan House Was the Other Young Man to Die
Anthony Stephan House died when a package that showed up at his home exploded on March 2. House, 39, was a resident in the Harris Ridge neighborhood in Austin. The package exploded upon opening.
House graduated from Texas State University – San Marcos in 2008, and he received a bachelor of business administration from the university. According to his Facebook page, House worked as a senior project manager at Texas Quarries, which supplies Texas limestone throughout the U.S. On LinkedIn page, he wrote that he had worked on projects for companies that included Toyota One north American Headquarters, UT Education and engineering School, and UT Robert Rowlin Hall. He also worked as a senior project manager at ETBC Contractors Inc.
According to WFTV, “House ran track and played basketball at Pflugerville High School where he made friendships that lasted throughout his life.”
Both House and Mason were from prominent African-American families in Austin.
You can read more about House here: