Houston native killed in Kenya terrorist attack was 9/11 survivor

HOUSTON (FOX 26) — Houston native Jason Spindler is among the 21 people who were killed in a terrorist attack in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday. His brother, Jonathan Spindler, says Jason was passionate about helping others and aspired to one day serve in public office. 

Islamic extremist group Al-Shabab is taking responsibility for militants launching an assault at a luxury hotel complex, which includes restaurants, offices and banks.

Jonathan tells FOX 26 News that he was getting his kids ready for school when he heard the news of the attack.

"Words can't describe it," says Jonathan. "There's so many feelings and emotions and wants to be close to my brother."

Jonathan says he immediately sent a text message to his brother Jason who had been living in the Kenyan capital city for the last three years, but Jonathan never heard back. 

Jonathan and his family then waited nearly 15 agonizing hours, anxiously waiting to find out if Jason was located.

"We had our assumptions but later we got a call from the U.S. Embassy that they had identified his body," recalls Jonathan. He also says Jason's office was located in the same complex and he would frequently eat at the cafe in the hotel that was attacked.

Jason, an alum of the University of Texas, grew up in the Memorial/Bunker Hill section of west Houston, attending Memorial Senior High School before transferring to a boarding school in the northeast U.S.

Jonathan says Jason was working on Wall Street during the 9/11 attacks in 2001.  

"He was coming out of the subway when the towers collapsed," describes Jonathan. "He didn't stop. He went in to help as many people as he could. From that moment, he knew he needed to do something different." 

Jonathan says Jason decided to make a career change after that moment, realizing he needed to live out his passion of helping others. 

Jason joined the Peace Corps and was sent to Peru. Eventually, Jason founded I-Dev International, a company dedicated to helping low-income residents in rural areas of developing countries.

Jonathan says Jason even aspired to one day to serve in public office. 

"His ultimate goal was to become a politician here in the states," says Jonathan. He also tells FOX 26 that Jason lived an active lifestyle. He loved to go rock climbing and was always traveling internationally. But no matter where he was in the world, Jason never missed his weekly Facetime sessions on Sundays with his nieces and nephews, because he loved them like they were his own. 

"He's an amazing uncle to my three children," says Jonathan. "He loved spending time with them. They made him want to have kids of his own. He was always contemplating and starting to make the plans to come back."

Jason's parents, who live in Missouri City, departed for Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Jason's life and legacy with his friends there. 

Jonathan says Jason's funeral will take place in Houston on Thursday, Jan. 24. Jason would have celebrated his 41st birthday on Monday.