Brunswick Police Officer Melvin Collins was shot and killed during an armed robbery 18 years ago.
He had just graduated from the academy and was set to have his ceremonial swearing-in three days later.
“He would be really grateful that people are still remembering him,” Felicia Collins, the widow of Officer Collins, told News4Jax on Sunday.
The couple were married in 1998. They have two children.
“It was hard being the single mom raising my two daughters alone,” Felicia Collins said.
Authorities said Officer Collins was working an off-duty job at a grocery store on U.S. 17 on April 11, 2003, when two men came into the store and attempted to rob it. When one of the suspects fired two shots past a female clerk’s head, authorities said, Officer Collins identified himself as a police officer and exchanged shots with the suspects.
Authorities said Officer Collins struck one of the suspects in the hand and was able to subdue him with the help of two off-duty U.S. marshals who were also in the store. The second suspect fled into a nearby marsh where he was apprehended the following day.
Felicia Collins told News4Jax her youngest was 4 when the shooting happened.
“It was something like a Lifetime kind of movie event, but it wasn’t somebody else’s life, it was mine, my kids’,” Felicia Collins said. “And the support was amazing, the support at the community gave was unbelievable.”
That support continues. On May 15, 2019, which is Peace Officers Memorial Day, officers saluted Officer Collins gravesite and laid a wreath.
“He was in plainclothes. He was not in uniform. Two guys come in to rob the store with a gun and he took action,” said Brunswick Police Department Chief Kevin Jones.
Jones said Officer Collins is on their memorial wall at the station’s briefing room.
“At the time, very young, dedicated, eager. He was a family man and was ready to go on his new career,” Jones said.
Felicia Collins told News4Jax her faith helped her family move forward all these years.
One of the suspects was convicted of murdering Officer Collins in 2003 in Brunswick and received a sentence of life without the possibility of parole.