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Police still don't know what led to killing 'rampage' in Brooksville

George Mason III is accused of killing three people and badly injuring another on Friday night.
George Mason III is accused of killing three people and badly injuring another on Friday night.
Published Sep. 1, 2014

BROOKSVILLE — Police are still confounded over what sparked a Lutz man's killing "rampage" Friday night that left two relatives and his children's mother dead and a half-brother in critical condition.

What they know so far is that an argument broke out among the group inside a home on 820 Peach St. in Brooksville and that George Mason III, 42, snapped.

"The only one that really knows is Mason," Brooksville police Chief George Turner said. "Something just set him off and he just started killing people. I don't know if there ever is going to be a definitive motive."

Police say that just before 9 p.m., Mason fatally shot his 81-year-old grandmother, Jannie V. Taylor, and a sibling, Ralph Peyton, 29, with a 9mm handgun. Around that time, police say, Mason's girlfriend and the mother of his two young children, Tarasha Townsend, 37, left her car in the driveway, walked up to the house and asked what was going on. Mason shot and killed her, too, police said.

While Mason was distracted, Gabriel Taylor, 33, his half-brother, tried to run away. But Mason chased him down the street for about 300 yards and continued to fire.

His shooting abruptly ended, but only by happenstance. A man driving a truck accidentally struck Mason, who he couldn't see on the dark road.

"He hit a murderer who was on a rampage," Turner said. "That truck driver, he was just a guy driving through the area, but he probably saved lives … He took out the shooter who was obviously hell bent on shooting people."

If there's any justice in what happened, Turner said, that was it. "I believe he would have continued to kill people," Turner said, "and it probably would have been one of my officers."

When police arrived, Mason was severely injured but scrambling to find his gun, which was close by in the street. Turner said the man was uncooperative but made admissions to first responders, taking responsibility for the shootings.

On Saturday, Turner said Gabriel Taylor, the only surviving victim, underwent surgery for his injuries, which included a gunshot wound to the head. He is recovering. The police chief said the hospital where Mason is being treated has reported that he has a broken leg, arm and neck and internal injuries from the truck. He has not undergone surgery but may need to, Turner said. He is heavily sedated and under guard.

Attempts to reach family members for comment were not successful Sunday.

Mason has a lengthy criminal record and has served four stints in prison for drug charges, battery on a law enforcement officer and possession of a firearm by a felon, among other charges. He is now facing three murder counts and one count of attempted murder. If he survives his injuries, Turner said he will be first transported to the Pasco County jail hospital, then to the Hernando County jail to await his day in court.

Contact Katie Mettler at kmettler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow her @kemettler.

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