by Cassie Klapp
Lunchtime at St. Vincent de Paul on one December afternoon brought in Jack Tucker, 47, who has been in and out of jail, living uptown and downtown, and in and out of gang life. He was born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in Los Angeles. As a kid, he was forced into the Crips gang because of the neighborhood he lived in.
“I had to fight three members to get in,” Tucker said.
Tucker said he felt pretty tough while he was involved in the gang. He said no one bothered him, including the police, and he didn’t bother anyone else.
“One time I was walking down the street with two, you know, big rifles, a 9mm right here,” he said, gesturing to the front of his pants, “and a 357 next to it.” He said he became romantically involved with a girl who unbeknownst to him was dating the leader of another Crips sect. At a party, he was beat up by both that sect and his own gang because of the relationship.
“I had a busted lip, my head was banged up pretty good, but somehow I got out,” Tucker said. He received treatment at the hospital and that was the end of his involvement with the Crips.
But he said that was not his last time he was involved in criminal activity. Tucker said he was wrongfully convicted of aggravated assault when a man said Tucker had attacked him with a knife. Tucker said he was just “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
He was behind juvenile-detention bars from age 14 until he turned 18. After he got out, he went to live with his mother and sister in Compton and “it didn’t work out,” Tucker said. It didn’t work out with his Auntie in downtown Los Angeles, either, so he decided to strike out on his own.
Tucker said he was sucked into what he calls “the life,” which included pimping, selling weed and stealing. He said after a while he became tired of it all and moved to Arizona to start a new life. He lived with his older brother, Thomas, bought a car, and had a construction job.
“I was straight, until I found out about this part of town,” he said. Tucker added that he was once again sucked into the life of pimping and doing drugs, getting high on cocaine now.
He lost his job, he said, and started going in and out of jail: He served four years for drug possession, was released, and then served four and a half more years for drugs. He was released but then went back behind bars for six years for armed robbery. In 1991, Tucker said, his mother died of ovarian cancer. He happened to be out of jail then, and went to see her before she died on Christmas Eve. He again was pulled back “into the mix,” and went away for three and a half years for possession of cocaine. Another release. Most recently, he said, he served a year and a half for possession of cocaine and methamphetamines.
“Just nine days ago, I died right over on First Avenue and Fillmore Street,” Tucker said. He said he died from an overdose of meth that he said was “cut” with “bath salts.” Tucker said he was rushed to the hospital and brought back to life. He said he has been clean and sober since then.
Tucker mentioned that his dad is not doing so well.
“He has a pacemaker and a bad hip and is pretty weak,” Tucker said. He said he will be on a Greyhound bus on Wednesday morning heading back to California to be with his dad and help him out.
Tucker said he hopes not to get “sucked back in” to the life he had been living through up until nine days ago.