‘They took my soul’
By Melanie Ruberti
‘They took my soul’
Mother grieves loss of 2 sons within six months
LaGRANGE – There will be two less stockings hanging on the mantle this year inside the Tucker house.
Not that there will be a whole lot of Christmas cheer among family members, especially for Vinikka Tucker. She’s lost two sons within the last six months. Both lives were tragically cut short by guns and violence.
Devan Tucker, 20, died Saturday night after at least two car loads full of suspects unloaded numerous rounds of bullets towards his home in the 200 block of Newnan Street.
“He was a lovable person … so helpful and had a caring heart,” Vinikka said with a smile. “… He was a ‘mama’s boy.’ He loved to give you big, wet kisses and hugs … He loved to be with family … he wanted to help raise his niece.”
His niece was the reason he was at the house on Newnan Street Saturday night. Devan and his family were celebrating her first birthday with a party when the shooting started, Vinikka said.
Devan stepped outside and was tragically gunned down as a hail of bullets were fired at the home. He later died at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, LaGrange police said.
Vinikka was not at the house when gunfire erupted on Newnan Street.
She was at the intersection of North Greenwood Street and Hunnicutt Place with her niece, where less than an hour earlier, suspects in multiple cars drove through the parking lot and opened fire on a group of people hanging out in Granger Park.
Investigators with the LaGrange Police Department believe the same people are responsible for both incidents. LPD also confirmed members of the Tucker family were at both locations.
Vinikka said she and her niece were speaking with a LaGrange police detective when her phone started ringing.
“My son–in–law said someone got shot at the house,” she remembered. “Then they said it was Devan who got shot … and I just fell to the ground …”
Vinikka and family members rushed to WellStar West Georgia Medical Center where they later learned Devan did not survive.
Loved ones are now reeling from the loss of not one, but two young family members in such a short span of time.
The Tucker family and friends are not the only ones affected by Devan’s death.
The 20-year-old man was going to be a father, Vinikka told the Daily News with tears in her eyes. The baby is due in July.
Although Devan did not know the baby’s gender, he had already picked out a name for his child, Vinikka said.
“He was so happy. He would talk about it (baby) so much,” she stated. “He said, ‘Mama, I don’t care if it is a boy or a girl. I’m going to name them (baby) D’Vonte.’ It was in honor of my other son …”
D’Vonte Tucker, 23, was shot in the head in the 1200 block of East 14th Street in West Point on May 31, said WPPD officials. He died the next day at the University of Alabama hospital in Birmingham, Ala., according to Troup County Coroner Jeff Cook.
No one has been formally charged in D’Vonte’s murder yet, but West Point Police are talking to a ‘person of interest’ in the case, said Capt. Kevin Carter.
WPPD investigators also have outstanding arrest warrants on two more people wanted in connection with the case, Carter said.
Motives in either murder have not been established by investigators.
LaGrange police arrested two men in the shooting death of Devan Tucker.
Charles Lovelace, 18, and Coty Green, 21, have each been charged with one count of murder, investigators said.
Both men were arrested inside a motel room in Valley, Ala., early Sunday morning.
Vinikka said she is familiar with Green. The 18-year-old ordered a T-shirt the family made in honor of D’Vonte for his birthday in November.
Vinikka had a message for both suspects – and anyone else who may be involved in the deaths of her sons.
“I just want them to know they took a lot from me … they took my soul,” she said tearfully. “My boys were my everything. I still get up in the morning and want to call them and see if they want anything to eat … that was our routine. But I can’t do that anymore.
“These young kids just need to get it together. Life is precious,” Vinikka added.
The Tucker family was adamant neither Devan nor D’Vonte had any involvement with gangs and were not members of a gang.
But the family admitted both brothers had friends who were in gangs.
Vinikka maintained her sons had distanced themselves from those friends and their activities.
The woman clings to the only constant possessions she has of D’Vonte and Devan: precious memories of the good times they had together.
“My birthday was last Friday. The family celebrated together last Thursday … Devan and I just danced and danced together,” she said with a small smile.
“It’s just so hard to think about,” she continued and then paused as tears welled up in her eyes. “They (Devan and D’Vonte) were the only kids I had … those were my boys. After D’Vonte died, I tried not to think about it. I just asked God to get Devan through it … he missed his brother. We took it one day at a time.”
Now Vinikka prays for justice for both her boys – and hopes there will be no more violence within the community.
“Just continue to pray for me and my family and don’t do anything else,” Vinikka said. “Just let the law handle it.”
The family plans to hold a memorial service for Devan next week.
A fund for the Tucker family has been set up at the Lakes, Dunson, Robertson funeral home to offset burial expenses.
Anyone wanting to make a donation is asked to call the funeral home at 706-882-6411.
Anyone with information on any of these cases is asked to call the LaGrange Police Department at 706-883-2603, West Point Police Department at 706-645-3525 or Troup County Crime Stoppers at 706-812-1000. Callers may remain anonymous.
Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.