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Brooksville police search for motive in slayings

Tribune Staff

Published:   |   Updated: August 31, 2014 at 05:41 PM

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BROOKSVILLE — As George Mason III rested between surgeries to repair broken limbs and vertebrae, Brooksville Police on Sunday were trying to understand why he turned a 9 mm handgun on loved ones, leaving three dead and his half-brother fighting for life.

The rampage at 820 Peach St., and nearby Martin Luther King Boulevard, left residents in the close-knit neighborhood stunned, although witnesses to the Friday night shooting have cooperated with investigators, Brooksville Police Chief George Turner said.

Killed were Jannie Taylor, 81, and Ralph Peyton, 29, both of the Peach Street address, and Tarasha Townsend, 37, the mother of Mason’s two young daughters. Mason, 42, and Townsend lived together at 24922 Oakhaven Ct., Lutz.

Mason was shooting his half-brother, Gabriel Taylor, 33, in the middle of Martin Luther King Boulevard, when he was struck by a full-size Dodge Ram pickup traveling about 45 mph, ending the incident around 9 p.m. Friday, Turner said.

“Some kind of argument happened, and Mason just went nuts, I guess,” Turner said. “He pulled out a gun and started shooting people.”

Mason is a convicted felon with numerous arrests on a variety of charges involving drugs, domestic battery, sexual activity with a minor, violating a restraining order, stalking, fleeing to elude law enforcement and several other charges, records show.

The driver of the truck was cooperative and will not face charges, Turner said.

Mason suffered broken vertebrae in his neck or back, as well as broken limbs, Turner said.

“He might have one or two broken arms and legs, we’re just not sure, because we don’t have the (medical) reports in our hands,” Turner said. “He did some good damage to the bumper and the hood. He was in some pretty serious pain. He was conscious, but in pain.

“The driver talked to him at the scene, and the first responders, and he made a lot of spontaneous admissions. He was looking for his firearm after he got hit by the truck. He did admit to shooting people and the firearm being his.”

Turner said that Mason had “some paralysis and non-movement” on Sunday.

“We’re not sure if that’s temporary or permanent,” Turner said.

Gabriel Taylor also survived surgery at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point, but Turner did not know his condition Sunday.

“We’re told he was shot in the face,” Turner said. “He had numerous other wounds that were serious, in vital parts of his body.”

Turner did not know how many gunshots Gabriel Taylor suffered.

According to Turner: Mason started shooting inside the house, killing Jannie Taylor and Peyton; Gabriel Taylor also was initially shot inside the house; Mason then went outside and shot Townsend, his girlfriend, who was left “dead in the middle of the road.”

“When Mason walked out to shoot his girlfriend, Gabriel made a break to get away, and Mason gave chase down the middle of Martin Luther King Boulevard,” Turner said. “Mason caught up to him and was shooting him. Then, down drives the Dodge pickup, and we found (Mason) laying there in the middle of the road.

“I’m thankful the truck took Mason out of action, and he was no longer armed and dangerous to us. He was still ready to have a gun battle. He would have been battling with my officers when they got there.”

Turner said residents in the area seemed shocked by the bloodshed, despite Mason’s criminal record.

“It surprised people that this would happen,” he said. “Even with him in the drug culture and carrying firearms. He has a violent tendency, but usually you don’t show that to this extent to your family. And an 81-year-old grandmother couldn’t have been too much of a threat.”

(813) 731-8162

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