BOONE – A month following the officer-involved shooting death of 22-year-old Andrew John Mason, the wait continues for the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation’s findings on the report.
“I just want to know the truth,” said David Mason, Andrew’s father, speaking earlier in April.
According to Watauga County dispatchers’ communication logs from the incident, the first 911 call came at 11:24 p.m. from 2145 Hardin Road, where the occupant described a suspicious male banging on the front door demanding to be let in. Watauga County Sheriff’s deputies responded to Hardin Road to investigate. Two more 911 calls at 11:39 and 11:40 p.m. described a male screaming while walking up Hardin Road.
According to WCSO communications, Deputy Adam Gragg encountered Mason and after what WCSO Sheriff Len Hagaman described as a “violent struggle,” Gragg shot Mason around 11:45 p.m.
Mason was later airlifted to Wake Forest Baptist in Winston-Salem, where he was pronounced dead. Gragg was subsequently put on administrative leave, pending the investigation.
According to a 2018 traffic ticket, Andrew Mason’s residence was 2342 Hardin Road as of December.
Questions about the incident – including what exactly caused Gragg to fire his weapon and whether Mason was armed or appeared to be under the influence of substances – have not been answered.
“With this boy being his size and without a weapon, I can’t imagine why anybody would have shot him,” said Boone attorney Tom Speed, who is representing David Mason.
Hagaman has repeatedly said all questions on the case should be referred to the NCSBI. The NCSBI, based out of Raleigh, has declined comment on multiple occasions, stating they don’t comment on active cases.
When asked April 15 if Gragg was still on leave, Hagaman declined to comment.
WCSO has a body camera policy that requires that deputies turn on the camera at the onset of all investigative and enforcement contacts, although it hasn’t been indicated if there is footage of the incident. WCSO does not have dash cameras, Hagaman said.
“I am waiting to see the full body cam before any decisions are made concerning action that will be taken,” Speed said on April 25.
Mason owns M&M Stone Masonry, and he said Andrew worked full time for him. Mason described his son as a hard worker, despite physical limitations from what Mason described as a neck injury Andrew suffered when he was 16.
“My son worked five to six days a week,” Mason said. “He had a sense of honor at just 22 years old.”
Andrew had two older brothers, along with an 11-year-old sister, said Mason, who also said his son attended Watauga and Ashe high schools, but did not graduate due to missing too many days due to the aforementioned neck injury.
Mason said he last saw his son at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 30, when he left work hours before the incident.
An autopsy was completed on April 2, according to Mason, but he said he won’t know the results until late May or early June. Wake Forest Baptist declined to share preliminary autopsy results, referring all questions to the NCSBI.
Mason made note that the location of the March 30 incident in the 2000 block of Hardin Street was in the same vicinity of 2130 Hardin Road, where WCSO Deputy William Mast Jr., 23, and Mitchell Allen Trivette, 33, were killed in July 2012. According to the NCSBI, Mast and his partner Deputy Preston Russell responded to a domestic disturbance at the residence at 2130 Hardin Road. On arrival, Trivette shot Mast and then Russell shot Trivette. Both men were later pronounced dead.
In the 2012 incident, the NCSBI’s report was finished and a summary was released in December 2012. The NCSBI determined Russell was justified in his actions.