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

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.

>> Read more trending news 

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 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 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 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.”

'Stocking Strangler' makes unusual request for his last meal

Serial killer Carlton Gary, known as the Columbus, Georgia, “Stocking Strangler,” said he wants his final meal to be whatever everyone else at the prison has for dinner that evening.

Gary is scheduled for execution by lethal injection at 7 p.m. Thursday at Georgia Diagnostic and Classification Prison in Jackson. 

>> Read more trending news 

Gary declined to request a last meal. He will be receiving the institutional tray consisting of grilled hamburger, hot dog, white beans, coleslaw and grape beverage.

Gary was convicted on three counts each of malice murder, rape and burglary for the 1977 deaths of 89-year-old Florence Scheible, 69-year-old Martha Thurmond and 74-year-old Kathleen Woodruff. 

Prosecutors say Gary attacked nine elderly women in Columbus in late 1977 and early 1978. Most were choked with stockings and seven died.

Gary's lawyers say police arrested the wrong man.

Gary would be the first inmate executed by Georgia this year.

12-year-old makes out will ‘just in case’ he dies in school shooting

Javon Davies took stock of his most important belongings -- his cat, his PlayStation 4 and Xbox, the games that go with them, his TV -- and wrote out his will, bequeathing them all to his best friend, Cameron. 

Javon is 12 years old and, according to his mother, Mariama Davies, of Birmingham, Alabama, he wrote that will out of fear that his middle school might be the next site of a mass shooting. Davies told CBS 42 that reading her son’s will broke her heart.

“I could not believe it, you know?” Davies told the Birmingham news station. “I mean, my child in in the sixth grade. This is something he should not be thinking about.”

See Mariama and Javon Davies’ interview with CBS 42 below. 

Davies told on Thursday that she was keeping Javon home on Friday and taking him on a weekend getaway to get his mind off of tragedy. The family also celebrated the first birthday of Javon’s baby brother, William, according to posts on Davies’ Facebook page

School violence was all around Javon when he and his friend sat down and wrote out their wills last week. 

Courtlin La’Shawn Arrington, a 17-year-old high school senior, was shot and killed Wednesday in a classroom at Huffman High School, located about 20 miles from Javon’s school on the other side of Birmingham. A fellow student, Michael Jerome Barber, has been charged with manslaughter in her death.

The following day, an unloaded gun was found in a locker at Birmingham’s Bush Hills Academy, reported. The weapon was found during an unannounced locker search at the K-8 school and resulted in the suspension of two eighth-graders.  

The week before, a gun was found outside Huffman Middle School, also in Birmingham, after administrators conducted a search based on a threat reported over the weekend, reported. A student was detained in that incident, as well. 

What shook Javon more than anything was word Thursday of an alleged Facebook threat against his own school, Jones Valley Middle School. Javon told that the school was briefly put on lockdown so it could be searched for weapons.

The scare prompted the will, which included a touching message to his family. 

“Dear family, I love you all,” Javon said he wrote. “You gave me the clothes on my back and you stuck with me all the time. Love, Javon.”

>> Read more trending news

The letter brought Davies to tears during her interview with CBS 42.

“It’s really hard because he’s so young,” Davies said, wiping her eyes. “He just shouldn’t have to go through that, period, because for what? He’s in sixth grade. You have a lot ahead of you, and these things going on you shouldn’t have to worry about, go through or even think about.”

Javon said even though there is fear, he knows everything will be all right.

“I know it’s going to be OK because God got me in his hands,” the boy said

Alabama woman accused of shooting estranged husband, pistol-whipping woman

An Alabama woman faces two counts of attempted murder amid allegations that she shot her estranged husband and pistol-whipped a woman at his home Saturday, police said. 

Lee Ann Matanane, 54, is also charged with first-degree burglary and second-degree assault, the Cullman Times reported

Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry said in a news release that Matanane is accused of parking her car down the street from her husband’s Berlin home and, while dressed in all black, going to the house and forcing her way inside, the Times reported. When she got inside, she is accused of shooting her husband, Benito Matanane, in the chest and striking the woman in the head with the gun.

The victims fought Matanane off and disarmed her, the newspaper reported. Responding deputies took her into custody.

Both victims survived the alleged attack and were in stable condition. 

>> Read more trending news

Gentry commended the work of his deputies and investigators.

“Domestic incidents are among the most dangerous calls our deputies face,” Gentry said

The Times reported that Saturday’s shooting was the first criminal charge for Matanane, though court records show an acrimonious journey through the couple’s pending divorce. The records show that Matanane filed for divorce from Benito Matanane in April 2017, citing “a complete incompatibility of temperament.”

That October, a judge issued restraining orders against both parties. reported that Benito Matanane was arrested that month on domestic violence harassment charges. 

The husband was arrested on similar charges in 2014, though those charges were later dropped, reported. The October charges, as well as a more recent reckless endangerment charge, are still pending.

In the reckless endangerment case, Benito Matanane was accused of pulling up next to his estranged wife’s car and repeatedly forcing his own vehicle into her lane, running her from the roadway, the court records said. 

The records showed that the couple reached a settlement agreement in their divorce earlier this month, said

Lee Ann Matanane was booked into the Cullman County Jail, with bail set at $75,000

Pulse shooting trial: Jury selected in Noor Salman case

A jury was selected Monday in the trial of Noor Salman, whose husband fatally shot 49 people and injured dozens in a 2016 massacre at Florida's Pulse Orlando nightclub.

>> Watch the news report here

The case hinges on whether Salman knowingly helped her husband, Omar Mateen, plan the attack. She faces charges of aiding the support of a foreign terrorist organization resulting in death and obstruction of justice.

>> Read more trending news 

An eighth day of jury selection began with the final two potential jurors being chosen.

Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys spent more than 30 minutes narrowing the jury pool from 57 people to the 18 people who will serve as jurors and alternates in the case.

>> On Prosecutors file motion to admit restroom 911 calls into evidence

The judge ruled on a motion that federal prosecutors filed Sunday, seeking to admit into evidence 911 calls made from a restroom in the nightclub during the attack.

The judge said he'll allow a 911 call made by someone who died in the shooting to be played, but not a 911 call made by someone who survived the shooting, because he will testify.

"I don't got no problem with you guys," Mateen can be heard saying in the call. "It's nothing personal. They're killing my people. You guys are enough experience, enough slavery as it is."

The judge also ruled that prosecutors may say whatever they wish in their opening statements. Prosecutors said they don't plan to argue that Mateen targeted Pulse Orlando because it was a gay nightclub.

>> On PHOTOS: Remembering the victims

The judge also granted defense attorneys' request to allow at least one witness to testify using an alias because of privacy concerns.

"That certainly has to speak to the defense's concern about their witnesses who may testify for Noor Salman," WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said.

Salman was wearing a pink blouse in court Monday. Her relatives, who haven't seen her in one year, were also in court and had traveled from California to be there.

"It is good to see Noor," said Susan Adieh, her aunt. "Hopefully, everything will work out and the truth will come out."

>> On Gunman visited Disney World, other nightclub, document says

Salman's uncle first told WFTV's Shannon Butler last year in Oakland that his niece is innocent, something he reiterated Monday.

"I know from day one, and that is not going to change – 100 percent, I know," Al Salman said.

Defense attorney Charles Swift said he was pleased with how jury selection ended.

"We are satisfied with the jury that is selected," he said. "In fact, we believe in them. And I am pretty confident at the end of this, they will believe in us, too."

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Wednesday. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

>> On PHOTOS: Courtroom sketches of Noor Salman trial

Toddler allegedly assaulted by babysitter 'not expected to survive,' father says

The father of an Ohio girl allegedly shaken by a babysitter spoke Monday in Butler County Area II Court during the arraignment of the woman accused of critically assaulting his 3-year-old daughter.

>> WATCH: Babysitter arraigned in court

>> Detectives: Babysitter admitted to shaking 3-year-old who family says is now 'brain dead'

Lindsay Partin, 35, of the 4000 block of Shank Road, is charged with felonious assault and felony child endangering in connection with the incident that allegedly occurred Thursday at her residence. Partin was babysitting the girl, Hannah Wesche.

>> On 911 call: ‘Hannah, breathe. Breathe for Daddy’

“We just want to stress with this situation it is devastating. She is not expected to survive. Within the next couple of days, we are told it is going to come to an end. We just ask that bond is not set pending new charges,” Jason Wesche said.

Magistrate William Nally set bond at $30,000 cash.

Mom charged after video shows baby crawling alone in street

A New York mother is facing a child endangerment charge after onlookers reportedly found her baby alone, crawling in the street Friday night. The infant's rescue was captured on video, police said.

>> Watch the news report here

According to the Utica Police Department, Ledrika E. Ford, 27, of Utica, was arrested after police learned of the video, which circulated on Facebook.

Ford told officers that "she and a relative were not sure how her 9-month-old child ended up on the street," adding that the baby had been secured in the back seat of a vehicle when they left the Bleecker Street area, police said.

>> Read more trending news 

"A short time later, she looked to the back seat and found that the child was not there," Utica police said.

Police said Ford and the relative found the baby at Pellettieri Avenue and Bleecker Street. The Facebook video appeared to capture the moment; a woman can be heard saying, "That's my baby. Oh, my God."

Police arrested Ford and charged her with endangering the welfare of a child. Oneida County Child Protective Services removed the baby and three other children from her custody, authorities said.

Read more here.

>> Click here to read the Utica Police Department's Facebook post about the incident

Austin package explosions: 3 blasts appear connected, claim 2 lives, police say

Three package explosions in Austin in the past two weeks appear similar and related, authorities said Monday, and police are warning residents against taking suspicious packages inside their homes.

>> Read more trending news

Police: University of New Orleans student threatens classmates, causes campus shutdown

Police have arrested a University of New Orleans student accused of making threats to fellow classmates Sunday evening, which caused a shutdown Monday of the university campus, as well as that of a high school next door.

Nicholas Heard, 20, was taken into custody Monday morning on a charge of terrorizing, New Orleans Police Department officials said. 

Police officials said Heard, who lives in on-campus housing, is accused of making direct threats to fellow students.

“Heard stated that he would shoot several people on campus,” a news release from the department stated

UNO officials responded by canceling all classes Monday. reported that university officials urged employees to stay away from campus. Students who live on campus were also asked to remain in their dorm rooms until the threat was over. 

>> Read more trending news

A message sent to students, faculty and staff by UNO police officials stated that Heard made “threats of violence” against two other students, reported. No motive was made public. 

UNO’s Twitter account reported just before 11 a.m. that Heard had been caught. reported that the nearby Ben Franklin High School was also closed Monday due to the threat. 

Detectives: Babysitter admitted to shaking 3-year-old who family says is now 'brain dead'

 Update 10:50 a.m. 3/12/2018: A Hanover Township woman allegedly admitted to Butler County sheriff’s detectives that she shook a toddler she was caring for on Thursday, according to court documents.

Lindsay Partin, 35, of the 4000 block of Shank Road, was booked into the county jail on Friday, charged with felony child endangerment and felonious assault.


She is scheduled to appear in court Monday for an arraignment. 

Partin caused serious physical harm to the 3-year-old girl by shaking her, according to the complaint filed by Detective Dan Turner. Family members earlier told WCPO that the girl was “brain dead.”

The charges came from Turner’s investigation and Partin’s admission, according to court documents.

Original report: A woman accused of abusing a 3-year-old girl she was babysitting is in Butler County Jail on charges of felonious assault and endangering children.

>> Read more trending news

Lindsay Partin, 35, was booked into jail Friday afternoon.

The child, 3-year-old Hannah Wesche, was taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on Thursday after she had been at Partin’s house, who was babysitting, according to WCPO.

Partin had been a trusted neighbor and had cared for Wesche for several months, her aunt, Megan Latham, told WCPO.

Latham said her niece is essentially “brain dead.”

“I think she fought the best that she could which is all we can ask,” she said. “I think God just has a better plan for her, and I know she is in a better place and she is not suffering.”

Partin is expected to appear in court Monday for an arraignment.

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