the Times Union, March 27, 2006
Local family mourns loss of a 'free spirit'
Jason Travers, 32, was one of six people killed by gunman on Saturday
By MARC PARRY, Hearst Times Union Staff writer
First published: Monday, March 27, 2006
ALBANY -- An Albany High School graduate is among six victims of
a "zombie rave" after-party massacre that Seattle police
are calling the city's deadliest mass shooting in more than 20 years.
Jason Travers, 32, was sitting in a chair and possibly asleep when
the black-garbed shooter killed him and five others early Saturday,
according to his father and the King County medical examiner's office.
The gunman committed suicide as police confronted him.
Travers grew up in Albany. Relatives described him as a "free
spirit" who spent a semester at Schenectady County Community
College, helped start a comic book shop in Michigan and moved to
Seattle several years ago.
Travers attended both a Friday night rave called "Better Off
Undead" and the smaller after-party at a friend's two-story
house, where the shooting took place, according to his father, James
Travers. Seattle Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said some guests were "made
up to look as if they were dead."
Just hours before the killing, Travers' older sister talked with
him by phone. Cheryln Travers, a nurse who lives in Albany, said
they discussed her family visiting Seattle in July. She has never
"You just cannot comprehend such a senseless act of violence," said
Travers, 36, who helped her single father raise Jason. "You
watch these things about Columbine, and then when it hits home ...
it's just truly a senseless act of violence that nobody will ever
Investigators were still working on understanding the shooter's
motive Sunday, said Seattle Police spokesman Sean Whitcomb. Authorities
had not officially released the assailant's name by Sunday afternoon,
but The Seattle Times newspaper Web site said police believe him
to be 28-year-old Kyle Aaron Huff of North Seattle.
Police said the shootings are the city's worst mass killing since
1983's Wah Mee massacre, when 13 died in an attack at a gambling
"It's one of the largest crime scenes the city has ever had," Kerlikowske
The shooter was a guest at the party where about 20 people had gathered.
He left around 7 a.m. Saturday, went to his black Dodge pickup truck
and came back armed with a 12-gauge, pistol-grip shotgun, a handgun
and bandoliers of shotgun shells, police said.
He forced his way back inside the house as he fired, police said.
Authorities found one of his victims -- four men and two women --
on the porch steps. Three were found in the living room, and one
other was at the front door.
After he couldn't get into the upstairs bathroom where a couple
had taken refuge, he blasted the door.
The couple survived unharmed.
King County Medical Examiner's office used a photograph to tentatively
identify one of the victims as Travers, investigator Nick Fletcher
told the Times Union Sunday. Full confirmation requires a relative
to identify the body, or a fingerprint match.
James Travers learned from an investigator in Fletcher's office
that one of the victims had Jason Travers' wallet and driver's license
in his pocket, he said.
Travers also recognized his son's hair in a media photo of authorities
taking a gurney from the house, he said in an interview Sunday.
"It's a very small shot of his hair, but it's him," said
Travers, 57, a retired ironworker who lives in Ravena. "It's
really tough. He's my only son and I love him with all my heart."
He described Jason's circle of friends as "brilliant creative
individuals" and artists.
Travers planned to leave for Seattle today. His thoughts and prayers
were with the other victims' families, he said.
Prior to his death, Jason Travers had just returned to Seattle from
Colorado, where he owns a home, his father said. He apparently was
not presently employed. He worked previously as dairy department
manager in a Seattle food cooperative.
He left the Capital Region years ago for Ann Arbor, Mich., where
he helped start a comic book store not far from the University of
Kind, gentle and generous, Travers was a vegan who "wouldn't
eat anything that had legs and could run away from him," his
As a child, however, he filled his mouth with dried cat food to
gross out his sister, Cheryln Travers remembered with a chuckle.
She said he enjoyed embarrassing her in front of friends.
"He was just a free spirit," she said when asked what
led him to move out West. "He did what he wanted to."
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