Austin, Texas, USA: Orchestra students who used to play with Austin bombing victim, 17-year-old Draylen Mason, said tonight at his vigil they “play every note for Draylen” as the school he attended, East Austin College Prep, celebrated his life, Tuesday evening, at the the school’s auditorium on the MLK campus.
Students used music, dance, photos and videos of Mason and those who knew him to celebrate his life and legacy. Students took turns approaching the front of an auditorium to post a single letter of Draylen’s name to mark each section of the program. Others picked up a microphone to share stories of their friend, and the good times they had together.
Draylen Mason, a talented cellist, who was the principal double bassist for the Austin Youth Orchestra, died March 12 after a package bomb by Texas serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt exploded in his kitchen in Austin, Texas.
A Push for Peace walk was held outside of Mason’s school earlier in the month. Another vigil for all of the bombing victims was held in Pflugerville last week.
In honor of Mason, the Hispanic Alliance says it has created the Draylen Mason Fellows Program to help high school musicians further their musical interests. The Hispanic Alliance operates Austin Soundwaves, a program Mason was a part of.
The fellowship will pick up to five students every year. Once chosen, they will receive intensive weekly private instructions as well as access to a network of musicians and mentors.
“We want to make sure that we honor Draylen in the most meaningful way possible,” said Patrick Slevin, CEO of the Hispanic Alliance and a mentor of Mason’s. “Music changed Draylen’s life, and I think he would want to see us share that gift with as many students as possible.”
Draylen Mason was an accomplished musician with an “infectious smile.” Anthony Stephan House, 39, the other bombing victim, was a “devoted father” to an 8-year-old girl.
Draylen Mason did not live to learn that he had been offered one of 130 spots at the renowned Ohio-based Oberlin Conservatory of Music. He’d already been accepted to the University of Texas’ Butler School of Music, the University of North Texas and the prestigious Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Ohio.
Mason was a passionate, accomplished, and talented musician with an “infectious smile” who was set to pursue a music degree at a selective program at the University of Texas, his current school, East Austin College Prep, said in a statement.
A devoted Christian and avid community volunteer, Mason aspired to be a neurosurgeon. He was a black belt martial artist who loved to dance, and also performed in jazz and mariachi groups.
His Facebook page shows a smiling, focused, and vibrant teenager who performed in an array of orchestras, including at the Interlochen Center for the Arts and the Austin Youth Orchestra.
The serial bomber gave no reason for targeting specific addresses or individuals who received packages containing bombs, police said. He did not indicate that his motives were hate or terrorism-inspired.
The investigation, which is being aided by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the FBI, is still ongoing.
The man suspected of suspected of delivering six home-made bombs to locations around Austin, Texas, this month, killing two people, died early Wednesday morning, by his own explosive device, as police attempted to arrest him, according to Austin Police Chief. The suspect died in the Round Rock community of Greater Austin, north of where the first bomb struck on March 2.
The first bombing happened on Friday, March 2 at a home located at 1112 Haverford Dr. in northeast Austin. Anthony Stephan House, 39, died when he picked up a package on his front porch.
The second and third bombing happened 10 days later on Monday, March 12. The first explosion rocked Oldfort Hill Drive in east Austin at 6:44 a.m. Draylen Mason, 17, died at the scene. Mason’s mother, Shamika Wilson, was also injured in the explosion, according to an online campaign to raise money for the family, which as of Tuesday morning had pulled in more than $137,000.
The second explosion that day happened on Galindo Street in southeast Austin. Esperanza Morena Herrera, 75, was critically injured and remains hospitalized.
The fourth bombing happened in southwest Austin in the Travis Country neighborhood on Sunday, March 18 around 8:30 p.m. Two men in their 20s were injured when a tripwire bomb exploded on Dawn Song Drive. This case showed the serial bomber using a different method since the first three cases involved packages left at homes.
The fifth explosion happened on Tuesday, March 20 in Schertz at a FedEx sorting facility. That explosion led authorities to another suspicious package at the FedEx facility in southeast Austin. On the same day, local and federal authorities confirmed the serial bomber sent two packages from the FedEx shipping store on Brodie Lane.