By SCOTT NORTH
The loss really didn’t hit Sonny and Mary Thompson until they went home that night without their boy and saw his graduation gown hanging up, ready for a ceremony he’d never attend.
Their son, Jason Thompson, 18, was on the edge of beginning life as an adult when bullets found him May 30.
Within days he would have graduated from high school. He had a construction job lined up for the summer that would pay union wages. There was talk of him pursuing a career as an electrician, and maybe soon setting up his own home with his girlfriend.
"Jason had his whole life in front of him. He was in love with a beautiful girl. He was graduating from high school and he was making plans for his future as an adult. I will miss seeing and being a part of that," Mary Thompson said.
"It just all came to an end," Sonny Thompson said, slowly shaking his head. Who could have imagined that his son, 6 feet 4 inches tall and upward of 270 pounds, could suddenly be gone. "We just miss the hell out of him," he said.
Jason Thompson was born on March 23, 1982, in Panorama City, Calif. He came to Washington about a decade ago after his father decided he wanted a safer place to raise his son than Southern California.
At the time, Sonny Thompson was a single father, trying to balance raising his son while working days as a truck driver. Jason’s birth mother had dropped out of their lives years before, but Sonny Thompson said he loved the wonderful responsibility of raising his son, a kid who was partial to wearing shorts and spending all day outdoors playing games with his buddies.
Jason "was my whole world," he said. "He was just your typical boy, all the way. Ride his bike. Play his video games. Didn’t like to go to bed."
Sonny Thompson landed a truck-driving job on Orcas Island. Mary Thompson grew up there, and she was visiting family when Sonny Thompson met her. She, too, was a single parent, raising a daughter one year older than Jason. They soon were a couple, and before long, a family settling into a south Everett-area home.
Jason appreciated having a mother around, Sonny Thompson said. "For the first two years, every time she put a meal on the table he’d say ‘Thank you!’ " his father recalled.
In school pictures, Jason Thompson always was in the back row, the biggest kid in his class. By the time he was a senior in high school, he towered over most grown men and wore size 15 shoes.
Jason’s physical size helped him excel in sports, especially football, basketball and track, where he hurled the shot put. He was a lineman on Mariner High School’s varsity football team, and while he didn’t have much speed, he more than made up for that with strength and heart, Sonny Thompson said.
He remembers a football game where the coach called a special play that had Jason carrying the ball. The opposition, a team that wore bright-red jerseys, converged on him as he lumbered down the field.
"He didn’t get very far, but I swear they had everybody on him. He wouldn’t go down. That was pretty neat," Sonny Thompson said.
It took a lot of fuel to keep that big body running, and from an early age Jason loved to eat.
His stepmother remembers going to a restaurant during a family trip when Jason was still in elementary school and watching him order the biggest breakfast available, a three-egg omelet. When the food arrived, Jason seemed disappointed. "He said, ‘Well, there’s only one omelet here. Where are the other two?’ "
Jason had plenty of friends and was on the phone constantly. Between sports, his girlfriend and hanging out with buddies, school work often took a back seat. But the Thompsons made graduating a priority, and he managed to earn the necessary credits to get his diploma from the Mukilteo School District.
The afternoon he died, Jason and some of his friends had been in Mary Thompson’s kitchen making eggs, hash browns and his favorite dish, Top Ramen noodles. She came home to find a "little love trail" of dirty dishes, which she cleaned up before starting dinner. Her husband was home by the time the phone rang with the horrible news that Jason and his good friend Jesse Stoner had been shot.
The Thompsons rushed to the parking lot of a south Everett store where the car Jason had been riding in was driven after it had been riddled with bullets.
"When we got there they had the yellow ribbon out already. I jumped that, and it took three cops to stop me," Sonny Thompson said.
Police and others told the Thompsons that their son was gone, that he’d been shot to death. There were a million questions. How? Why? Why him? But that night, there were few answers.
The family now waits to see somebody answer, in court, for Jason Thompson’s death. Meanwhile, family members been grateful for the caring and support they’ve received from the community, Sonny Thompson said.
Jason Thompson didn’t plan on attending college, but his family hopes to help somebody else’s son get there. They plan a football scholarship in their son’s name using the memorial fund that was established after his death. Donations still are being accepted at the Martha Lake Branch of Wells Fargo bank, Sonny Thompson said.
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