Houston native among 21 killed in Kenya terror attack

By Phil Archer - Reporter, Aaron Barker - Senior Digital Editor

A native Houstonian is the only U.S. citizen so far identified among the dead in Tuesday’s deadly terrorist attack at a luxury hotel Nairobi, Kenya.

The parents of Jason Spindler, 40, Joseph and Sarah Spindler of Missouri City, of Missouri City, confirmed he was killed.

Jason Spindler was an international business consultant who kept an office across the street from the hotel. His mother said he’d gone to the hotel for lunch Tuesday.

"We went there to visit him and that’s the hotel we stayed at. At the time, it seemed like a very safe, secure hotel. It had several checkpoints,” Joseph Spindler said.

Jason Spindler was born and raised in Houston and attended the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned a business degree.

He had an earlier brush with terrorism in the 9/11 attack in 2001 while working at a financial firm at the World Trade Center.

PHOTOS of Jason Spindler

"He was late for work that morning. He was just getting off the subway when building 1 and 2 went. He worked in Building 7," Sarah Spindler said. “He went down the next day to help and that building collapsed.”

After that, his parents said their son began to feel his work on Wall Street was too impersonal, so he joined the Peace Corps to help people. He eventually earned a law degree, and traveled the world -- recieving grants from both the Clinton Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, for his work in developing countries his mother said. He was co-founder and managing director of I-Dev International, a firm that advises in business strategy for emerging markets.

He’d been in Kenya for three years.

“He was there essentially to help people. He was in a country he was trying to help. And it’s devastating that the same people he was trying to help killed him. It doesn’t makes sense,” Joseph Spindler said.

The extremist group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack. So far, 21 people -- plus five gunment -- have been confirmed dead; 28 people were hurt and about 50 are still missing.

Jason Spindler’s parents said he’d been talking about returning to the U.S. to settle down, start a family and perhaps get into politics. They were looking forward to celebrating his birthday with him in Houston next week.

“We were getting ready to get together with him for his birthday. He was going to come back to the states. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen. We have to go and bring him home now,” Sarah Spindler said.

The Spindlers planned to fly to Nairobi Wednesday to bring their son’s casket home for burial Jan. 24.

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