LORAIN - Thursday a Lorain County family had the heartbreaking task of burying their son.. Those who loved 20-year-old Zachary Mason, Sr. most made sure his death was not in vain.
Instead of the typical funeral, the goal of this one at God's Kingdom Church in Lorain was to inspire, uplift and educate. Military recruiters from the U.S. Air Force, Navy and ARMY were present along with local business owners and a representative from a community college.
"To the youth out there, I work for Lorain County Community College," said Kenneth Glynn, an adult outreach associate with the college. "There is a better way. God bless you."
The church filled with family, friends and fond memories. Many present said Mason was an all around "nice guy" and powerhouse football player. Friends say the 2016 Elyria High School Graduate had a promising future ahead. Mason was shot multiple times last week on West River Road in Elryia before succumbing to his injuries.
"He would go to school even when his brother wouldn't go to school," recalled long time friend Tyrone Smith. "He had ambition, he had a scholarship to go to college for football. He gave it up so he could be here for his son."
Apostle Charles Howard, who gave the eulogy, said instead of talking at people during the service, he wanted to try showing them how they could become better men.
"I am tired, sick and tired, of the normal messages at funerals," said Howard. "I just felt the need of this epidemic of us killing each other, it has to stop. If it has to stop, I believe one of the things we need to do is be able to offer them something while they are at this funeral."
Elyria Police arrested two men in connection with Mason's death. Keeon Green Jr, 18, along with Lance Cheers, 28; both were charged with aggravated robbery. Police said the investigation remains ongoing, more arrests are anticipated in addition to possibly upgraded charges.
"I grew up in the Bronx so it's kind of familiar for me to see some senseless stuff go on," said U.S. Air Force TSgt. Sergio Melendez in attendance. "I just want to them know there is an opportunity to get out of that."