December 17, 2018 | By Amanda Allan
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
What started off as a seemingly normal Saturday years ago will forever be engraved into the minds of Anthony Stinson Sr. and his family.
It was May 18, 2013 when Anthony Stinson Jr. decided to visit his grandmother. As he left her house that day, around 4:30pm, he was shot multiple times in the back in a drive-by shooting. He was in critical condition when police arrived and rushed to the hospital where he then died due to the injuries. It was just weeks before his 21st birthday. To this day, the killer has still not been caught.
His sister, Antinese Stinson, described Stinson Jr. as someone who was always laughing and smiling. “You knew it was gonna be a good time when he was around,” she said.
Stinson Jr. was born June 16, 1992, one day from his father’s birthday.
He was known as “Ham” by all his family and friends, a nickname he had from birth.
“He was such a big baby, people would say he looks like a big ole ham and it stuck with him his entire life,” Stinson Sr. said.
He was described by his father as a kid who did well in school and was always helping others.
“He was always there to help and him and his mother Elnora were very close. My fondest memories of him were when he was small, he always wanted to hang out with me,” Stinson Sr. said. “We would go places and do things like sporting events, movies, and concerts. He could always make me feel like I was the most important person alive.”
Stinson Jr. spent his teenage years playing varsity football at Andrew Jackson High School, something he and his dad bonded over, where he graduated in 2010. He then continued his education at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.
“Some of my favorite memories were when he became older and started coaching football. Everyone loved working with him,” Stinson Sr. said.
Stinson Sr. vividly remembers the horrible day he received the phone call that told him his namesake had been shot. At first, he didn’t think it was too serious until he arrived at Shands Hospital where he saw the rest of his family and the chaplin waiting. “When they said ‘We did everything they could,’ my world just crumbled,” Stinson said. “My wife and daughter went ballistic. It was truly the worst day of my life.”
As a result of this tragedy came a calling for the family and friends of Stinson Jr. and the Anthony J. Stinson Jr. Association for Change was created. It’s a nonprofit organization set up in Stinson Jr.’s memory that helps the youth of Jacksonville stay away from violence. They participate in field trips, offer tutoring, and put on events to help young adults get hired, as well as many other opportunities to help the youth of the community. The association mission statement reads, “We want to bring an end to neighborhood violence by offering youth the opportunity to have a safe haven to learn, play, and create a lasting connection within the community.” What Stinson Sr., executive director of the organization, really wants to do is teach the youth how to communicate with their words rather than violence, the same kind of violence to which Stinson Jr. was subjected.
“We are always trying to put his name and association out there to let people know we are here to help,” Stinson Sr. said. “He will forever be loved and missed.”
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