An American who was among at least 21 people killed in Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Kenya was a graduate of a private high school in Maine.

Jason Spindler, co-founder of the San Francisco firm I-DEV International, grew up in Houston but attended Hebron Academy, a private boarding school in Oxford County. He graduated in 1996.

Spindler, 40, lived a varied and dramatic life in the years that followed, including narrowly missing the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks while working as an investment banker in Manhattan. Spindler’s office was inside the World Trade Center and he arrived to work that morning just as the first tower fell.

His former college roommate, Kevin Yu, told The Washington Post that Spindler ran into the rubble immediately to start pulling people out.

“That’s exactly the kind of person he is,” Yu said. “When we hear explosions of gunfire, a lot of people immediately jump away. His instinct is quite the opposite – he jumps straight at it.”

On Facebook, Spindler’s brother Jonathan, a 2002 graduate of Hebron Academy, wrote, “There are no words to describe how our family is feeling but I can say . . . Jason Spindler you are and will always be an amazing son, brother, and uncle.” Jason was “a survivor of 9-11 and a fighter. I am sure he gave them hell!”


Spindler was a victim of an attack on a luxury hotel and shopping complex in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi carried out by al-Shabab extremists, the Associated Press reported. Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a televised address that “all the terrorists have been eliminated,” although he did not say how many attackers were involved.

“We will seek out every person that was involved in the funding, planning and execution of this heinous act,” Kenyatta said.

Security footage showed at least four heavily armed men in military-style garb took part in the attack, an assault marked by explosions and heavy gunfire. The terrorist group Al-Shabab, which is allied with al-Qaida, claimed responsibility. The same group also carried out the 2013 attack at Nairobi’s nearby Westgate Mall that killed 67 people, and an assault on Kenya’s Garissa University in 2015 that claimed 147 lives, mostly students.

Most of the victims in Tuesday’s attack were believed to be Kenyan, although a Briton also was killed.

The State Department had not yet identified the American killed late Wednesday afternoon, but I-DEV International confirmed that it was Spindler, its co-founder and managing director. Spindler’s father, Joseph, told the AP that his son worked with international companies to form business partnerships in Kenya that would boost local economies.

Jason Spindler’s close friends and colleagues Abdalla Dahir and Feisal Ahmed also were among those killed, the Post reported. Adam Smith International, the economic-advising company where they worked, said the two were “killed on the terrace of a restaurant in the complex” where the company’s Kenya office is located. They worked on a project called Somalia Stability Fund, which the statement described as an effort “to bring peace and prosperity to Somalia through more than 100 local community initiatives.”


Patricia Chin-Sweeney, a colleague of Spindler’s at I-DEV, called him an inspiration.

“Over the last 15 hours, an incredible group of friends in Nairobi helped to search every hospital, every hotline, every channel of information, and now to support his family. … It is a sign of how much he was loved and valued – and the incredible community of Nairobi,” she wrote on Facebook. Chin-Sweeney said that had Spindler survived the attack, he would have been the first one to provide emergency support.

Hebron Academy, a private high school in the Oxford County town of Hebron, posted on its Facebook page Wednesday that Spindler was an alumnus.

“We are saddened to announce that Jason Spindler, Hebron class of 1996, was among those killed in yesterday’s terror attacks in Kenya,” the statement read. “Jason will always be remembered at Hebron as a true friend by all with whom he crossed paths.”

Hebron officials said Spindler was captain of the swim team his junior and senior years, was active in Green Key and Outing Club, and was a member of the Diversity Committee. He later graduated from the University of Texas-Austin and was a member of the Peace Corps.

Head of School Daniel Marchetti, who took over in 2016, said he didn’t know Spindler but has been in contact with his family.


“We were notified early (Wednesday) morning by alumni who wanted us to be aware,” he said. “When I saw it on the news last night, it didn’t register that there was a connection.”

Spindler was well-traveled and had an avid interest in climbing.

“The world lost a gem yesterday in the Nairobi terrorist attack. Jason Spindler was an incredible friend and an even better climbing buddy,” his friend, Mari Sambrick, wrote on Facebook. “He was the most patient teacher on the wall, and his unwavering confidence in you was contagious.”

Hebron Academy, founded in 1804, is a boarding school for students from 6th grade through high school. Its enrollment is about 300.

Among its alumni are Leon Leonwood Bean, the founder of Freeport outdoor retailer L.L. Bean, and Hannibal Hamlin, who was vice president to Abraham Lincoln.

The school’s flag flew at half staff on Wednesday.

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