Young couples are frequently encouraged to write wills and make estate plans that will be ready in the event of unexpected death — but few of them do so.
Such a tragedy seems too unlikely for most of them to undertake such a sad task.
But Travis and Samantha Mason were an exception to this rule. Why? One reason, Samantha says, was Travis's past as a Marine — a service in which risking life for country is one cost of membership.
"We'd talked about what to do if anything was to happen — what his wishes were and what my wishes were," she acknowledges. "And he just wanted everybody to be happy. He didn't want anybody really mourning."
Keeping this pledge will be difficult for Samantha and his friends, family and loved ones — not to mention what Samantha refers to as "his brothers and sisters" in the military. Because while Travis survived his stint in the Marines, which ended in February 2016, he was killed on June 18, at the age of 24, when he was shot while working as a security guard at Green Heart, a dispensary at 19005 East Quincy Avenue in Aurora.
Samantha, who's originally from Jacksonville, North Carolina, says Travis was "a loving, family person" — and that's a good thing, since the pair were raising quite a clan. He was the father of twins (one girl, one boy) who marked a birthday last week, as well as a baby boy.
"He really cared about his children," she stresses about Travis. "He always talked about them with everybody, was always showing their pictures and made sure they were always having fun. We always ate together as a family."
After Travis completed his commitment to the Marines, the Masons moved back to Colorado, his home state, to be nearer his family, most of whom are located in Trinidad. But they'd recently moved to Denver. Travis wanted to become a police officer, but in the meantime, he was working two jobs to put food on the table — gigs at King Soopers and Green Heart.
He didn't complain about this schedule or the delay in making his career dreams come true, Samantha points out. "We always tried to look for the good in everything," she notes, "because we're really positive people, and we tried to take a positive outlook."
Travis was hired at Green Heart earlier this month. Was he concerned about the risks the assignment entailed? "We didn't talk about it too much," Samantha replies. "It was just something really new. I knew somewhat of the dangers, but I didn't think anything would ever happen."
It did — and Samantha was the first to sense the disaster to come.
"Anytime we'd go anywhere, we'd always call each other," she recalls. "We promised each other that every time we'd leave a place, we'd always get into contact with each other. So when he didn't contact me that night, I knew something was wrong.
"I'm the one who called 911," she continues. "And I called them multiple times to get information, because I was left in the dark. I didn't get any information until one o'clock in the morning, or something like that, when the police showed up at my door."
The Aurora Police Department's version of the events goes like this: At approximately 9:44 p.m. on the 18th, officers were called to Green Heart on a report of a robbery with shots fired. Upon their arrival, they found Travis. He was suffering from multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead after being transported to an area hospital.
A Green Heart representative declined to comment about the case for Westword beyond expressing condolences to the Mason family. However, a knowledgeable source tells us that the crime should more properly be dubbed a robbery attempt, since nothing was taken. After shooting Travis, the perpetrators — Aurora police describe them as two African-American men armed with handguns — fled without either money or dispensary products.
In the wake of Travis's death, a reward of $12,000 was offered — an amount split between the APD and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, supplemented by a $3,000 pledge from Euflora, a neighboring dispensary. But no arrests have been made at this writing, and when contacted by Westword, police had no new information to share publicly.
Meanwhile, Samantha has been put in the position of planning a funeral in Trinidad — and she's gotten a big assist from vets.
"A lot of his good buddies in the military had promised him that if anything was to happen to him, they would take care of the family," Samantha says. "The kids call them uncles, even though they're not blood-related. We're a big family, and they always tell me they're here for me, no matter what."
The funeral service is scheduled for tomorrow, June 28, in Pueblo. Click to access the full details, which are also shared below. Additionally, a GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Samantha and the kids. As of now, just over $22,000 has been pledged toward a goal of $30,000.
For her part, Samantha is trying to do as Travis asked — to celebrate his life rather than focus on his loss. But she becomes emotional as she shares her memories.
"He was just the sweetest person you'd ever meet," she says. "He loved to relax and smile, he loved being around people. And he never liked conflict. He stayed away from that. I miss him so much."
Look below to see a 9News report about the incident, followed by the details about tomorrow's service. If you have any information about the crime, you're encouraged to contact the Aurora Police Department at 303-739-6067 or Metro Denver Crime Stoppers at 720-913-7867.
The Patriot Guard Riders have been invited to participate in the Funeral, Procession and Interment Services for Travis S. Mason on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 in Trinidad, CO.
Travis was killed on June 18, 2016 while performing his duties as a Security Guard in Aurora, CO. He was 24. He served in the United States Marine Corps from February 2012 until February 2016. He leaves behind his wife Samantha and three small children as well as many other family members and friends.
The Funeral Service will be held at the Sebastiani Gym, 206 Animas, Trinidad, CO at 10:00 AM.
The procession will travel from the Sebastiani Gym to the Trinidad Catholic Cemetery, 2366 East Main Street.
The Interment Service at Trinidad Catholic Cemetery will begin at approximately 11:15 AM.