First Ann Dugger scholarship awarded to murder victim's brother

Justice Coalition names $2,500 scholarship for retired longtime director

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A murder victim’s brother received a special gift Thursday, thanks to the Justice Coalition's newly created Ann Dugger scholarship.

The scholarship is named for the recently retired executive director of the nonprofit victims advocate group.
More than 300 community leaders and volunteers came together Thursday to support the organization in its 15th annual "Together We Can" breakfast.

At the breakfast, the coalition presented an emotional Darien Tucker with the first ever Ann Dugger scholarship -- $2,500 toward college.

Tucker has been having a hard time since his brother, William Tucker Jr., was killed in 2015 at the age of 23. The man accused of killing him is set to go on trial this summer.

“Lord knows I would trade in that scholarship to see (William) for five minutes, but I look at it as a blessing. I know he's looking down on me,” Darien Tucker, 20, said. “It's definitely going to help out a lot.”

The Florida State University sophomore, who is on the dean's list, volunteers and hopes to work in accounting and finance, accepted the award Thursday as sheriffs, police officers, prosecutors, judges and volunteers applauded.

“Sometimes, you have an innocent victim that feels that they have no hope. They are struggling. And for somebody just to care, someone to reach out and to give them a little boost, it makes all the difference in the world,” said Dugger, who stepped down last year after two decades of service.

The scholarship named for her will be awarded to a “worthy victim or family member of a victim of violent crime to pursue higher education.”

Those gathered Thursday morning said they are working to show there's good in Jacksonville, despite the city's share of violence.

“It's a community. It takes a community effort,” said Paul Bussell, who took over as head of the coalition. “I was just so overwhelmed with gratitude that people are so generous.”

The Justice Coalition hopes to continue giving back -- with the help of the community -- to reach out to victims of violence and their families, like Darien Tucker.

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