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Austin package bombings: Friends remember victims Draylen Mason, Anthony House

Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2018 @ 7:53 AM

Police Investigating Fatal Package Explosions In Austin

Friends and acquaintances of Draylen Mason, the 17-year-old who was killed in one of Monday’s package explosions in Austin, Texas, remembered him as a kind young man and a talented musician.

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Mason’s mother also was injured in the explosion first reported around 6:44 a.m. Monday, authorities said. She remained in the hospital on Tuesday and was in stable condition. Authorities haven’t released her name yet.

Mason’s Facebook page shows that he was a senior at East Austin College Prep and was heavily involved in local music programs such as the Austin Youth Orchestra, where he was the principal double bass player, and the youth music program Austin Soundwaves, where he was also the principal bassist.

“He was a cool guy, and he was just so fun to be around,” said his friend, Kylie Phillips. “He was always busy, because he always had gigs and he was always doing things for the orchestra here in Austin. … I used to sing in a band with him, so it was so devastating when I found out he died.”

Another friend from school, Stephanie Lucio, remembered him as “talented to the max, from dancing to playing so many instruments.”

“As for his mother, I pray for her strength and recovery,” Lucio said. “She raised an outstanding son, friend, student and global citizen.”

>> On Statesman.com: 265 reports of suspicious packages; reward raised to $65,000

Former Austin Council Member Mike Martinez said he had met Mason and re-posted on Facebook a photo of them together.

“I had the honor to meet Draylen Mason in 2013 after he won the Hispanic Bar essay contest,” Martinez wrote. “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.”

Mason had been accepted to the University of Texas Butler School of Music, UT spokesman J.B. Bird said Tuesday.

The dean of the College of Fine Arts, Doug Dempster, offered his condolences, calling Mason a “most remarkable talent” who had the “chops to study music in college.”

“We at the University of Texas were so eager to have him join our music school … He carried himself with a kind of quiet maturity that belied his youth,” Dempster said. “The loss of a child with such conspicuous ambition, talent and determination is the cruelest kind of heartbreak.”

Some of Mason’s teachers grieved for him on social media, describing him as a remarkable student.

Sam Osemene, a U.S. government professor at Austin Community College, said he was intelligent and well-loved by everyone in the classroom.

“He was a very vibrant young man, full of life, always smiling,” Osemene told the American-Statesman on Tuesday. “He had what I call a zeal to succeed.”

>> On MyStatesman.com: Police first focused on drug case. They were wrong.

Mason had previously shared a couple videos of classical string performances on his Facebook page, and several photos of him show him playing a double bass or sitting at a piano.

A spokesperson from Soundwaves said Mason had worked with its executive director since he was 11 years old.

Mason had left a five-star review on Austin Soundwaves’ Facebook page: “Austin Soundwaves is a great music programs that’s dedicated to the advancement of kids in East Austin thru the power of music,” he wrote. “They push everyone to strive and to do great things in life.”

The group had been contacted by Mason’s family and asked not to comment further.

Mason had performed with the Austin Youth Orchestra for the last six years, its conductor, William Dicks, said Tuesday.

“He was an outstanding young man that had the talent and artistry to be a first class professional musician,” Dicks said. “It’s senseless.”

The first victim

Mason was the second person killed in the series of package explosions that began earlier this month.

Anthony House, who was killed in the first package bombing on March 2, was father to an 8-year-old girl and a Pflugerville High School and Texas State University graduate. Friends remembered him as quiet, clean-cut and driven.

House ran track and played basketball at Pflugerville High School where he made friendships that lasted throughout his life.

“He wanted to be something different and bigger than what a lot of people thought he was going to do,” said fellow Pflugerville Panther Greg Padgitt, who graduated two years before House. “He was quiet, but jokey with the kids that he let in. He was a great kid.”

After graduating from Texas State University with a degree in business administration, finance and financial management services in 2008, House started a money managing firm, serving as president of House Capital Management LLC. More recently he worked as a senior project manager for Texas Quarries, a Cedar Park-based lime fabricator, and Acme Brick, a Fort Worth-based firm. According to public records, House had recently begun attending Austin Community College.

>> On Statesman.com: COMPLETE COVERAGE: Austin’s package explosions

House’s family members declined to speak to the media Tuesday, but Freddie Dixon, House’s stepfather, had previously told the Washington Post that he thinks the bombings were a hate crime.

“Are you trying to say something to prominent African-American families?” Dixon, who is close friends with Mason’s grandfather and is the co-founder of the Austin Area Urban League, told the Post. “It’s not just coincidental.”

State Sen. Kirk Watson, a Democrat from Austin, expressed his condolences for House via Facebook on Tuesday afternoon: “The family of Anthony Stephan House, including his wife and 8-year-old daughter, has endured such a terrible loss through an absolutely inexplicable act of violence. Anthony was laid to rest this past weekend. I’ve known his stepfather, the Rev. Freddie Dixon, for many years and send my deepest condolences to the family.”

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Melania Trump poses with Bushes, Clintons and Obamas at Barbara Bush funeral

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 5:44 PM

First Families Pose Together At Barbara Bush Funeral

The current first lady posed for a picture with former first ladies and past presidents Saturday at Barbara Bush’s funeral.

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First Lady Melania Trump is seen in the image, taken by photographer Paul Morse, with the Bushes, Clintons and Obamas.

Trump, who attended the funeral without her husband, is seen standing alongside Michelle Obama.

“It was my honor to travel to Houston to give my respects to Barbara Bush and the remarkable life she led as a mother, wife, and fearless First Lady,” she said in a statement. “My sincerest thoughts and prayers continue to be with George H.W., and the entire Bush family.”

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Royal baby: New addition to the royal family will be fifth in line for the throne

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 8:51 AM

7 Interesting Facts about the Royal Family

A new British prince was born on Monday and that means a new line of succession to the British throne.

Move over, Prince Harry, your new nephew will bump you one step down the line, and shake up everyone who follows you.

The British line of succession was established in the 17th century after James II left the country and the throne in 1688. By 1701, the Act of Settlement established that the country’s Parliament could determine who would rule the country.

The act said that only Protestants could rule – no Roman Catholics could be considered and those in line for the throne could not marry a Catholic. In 2013, the Succession to the Crown Act ended the provision against marrying a Catholic. However, a Roman Catholic may not rule the country.

The law also stated that male heirs, no matter where they fell in the birth order, would displace female heirs in the line of succession. In other words, a younger brother would jump over an older sister in the succession line.

The Succession to the Crown Act amended that portion of the Act of Settlement by ending the practice of moving sons to the front of the line – called male primogeniture. The act applies to those born after Oct. 28, 2011. Princess Charlotte, the daughter of Prince William, is the first female in the line of succession who will not be skipped over by a younger sibling.

Here is the line of succession as stands after the birth of the new prince:

The line of Succession

Queen Elizabeth

1. The Prince of Wales – Prince Charles (Elizabeth’s first child)
2. The Duke of Cambridge – Prince William (Prince Charles’ son)
3. Prince George of Cambridge – William’s son
4. Princess Charlotte of Cambridge - William’s daughter
5. The new royal baby – brother to George and Charlotte
6. Prince Henry of Wales – Prince Harry (William’s brother; Charles second child)
8. The Duke of York – Prince Andrew (Elizabeth’s third child)
7. Princess Beatrice of York – Andrew’s daughter
8. Princess Eugenie of York – Andrew’s daughter
9. The Earl of Wessex – Prince Edward (brother of Prince Charles; Elizabeth’s fourth child)
10. James, Viscount Severn – (Prince Edward’s son)
11. The Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor – (Prince Edward’s daughter)
12. The Princess Royal – Princess Anne (daughter of Queen Elizabeth; her second child)
13. Peter Phillips – son of Princess Anne
14. Savannah Phillips – daughter of Peter Phillips
15. Isla Phillips – daughter of Peter Phillips
16. Zara Tindall – daughter of Princess Anne

VICTORIA, BC - SEPTEMBER 24: Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George of Cambridge and Princess Charlotte of Cambridge arrive at the Victoria Airport on September 24, 2016 in Victoria, Canada. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince George and Princess Charlotte are visiting Canada as part of an eight day visit to the country taking in areas such as Bella Bella, Whitehorse and Kelowna. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)(Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

 

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California couple tortured, burned Vietnam veteran as children watched, police say

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 10:09 PM

Couple Accused of Torturing, Killing Vietnam Veteran

A couple tortured a Vietnam War veteran in order to gain access to his financial and personal information and then took their children with them when they burned his body in a rural field, police said. 

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Kenneth Coyle, 70, a Vietnam War veteran and contractor at Naval Air Station Lemoore, became friends with Stacie Mendoza, a restaurant server who befriended him and later killed him with her husband, Jose Mendoza, according to Hanford police

"We think she manipulated that relationship to gain his trust and defraud him of money," Cpt. Karl Anderson, of the Hanford Police Department, said at a press conference. "As this relationship grew, we know that Ms. Mendoza started getting access to his bank account information and started getting money from him."

Police said Stacie Mendoza began defrauding Coyle a couple of weeks ago, but escalated the grift on April 5 and April 6, when she and her husband restrained Coyle to a bed and beat him in order to get his bank account information, passwords and other personal information, police said. 

Days later, the Mendozas loaded Coyle’s body into their car and burned it in a field as their children watched, police said. 

The Mendozas returned to Coyle’s house last week to steal more items and were questioned by property management employees. The employees were suspicious of the couple, who said the veteran had been injured and was recovering at a care home, investigators said. 

Police arrested Stacie and Jose Mendoza at a Denny’s restaurant near Los Angeles International Airport. Jose Mendoza had Coyle’s credit card and a ticket to El Salvador in his possession, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The couple was arrested and charged with first-degree murder, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. They are being held without bail. Their children were put in the custody of Child Protective Services.

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Police officer takes 84-year-old man to hospital to visit sick wife

Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 7:48 AM

FILE PHOTO
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
FILE PHOTO(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A police officer in Pennsylvania has the serve portion of “to protect and serve” perfected.

Roger Baker, 84, had to get to his local hospital after his wife had a medical emergency. No friends or family could take him, so he called police for help, WHP reported.

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Deputy Chief Bentley from Montoursville Police Department responded, taking Baker to the medical facility, and escorted him to the building, WHP reported

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

In the police department’s Facebook post, which has been shared more than a thousand times, the department said that Bentley held Baker’s hand, walking him to the building until hospital workers brought a wheelchair out for Baker and took him to his wife in the emergency room.

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