MILTON — A fourth arrest has been made in connection with the drive-by shooting Feb. 4 that killed one person and injured two others.
Melissa Blair Pocopanni, 19, was arrested at about 5 p.m. Tuesday, according to Pamela Holt, spokeswoman for the city of Milton. Pocopanni was being held in the Santa Rosa County Jail and was scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
State Attorney Bill Eddins said Pocopanni was charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and principal to second-degree murder.
The arrest came just hours after the Pensacola branch of the NAACP and the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights hosted a press conference at the State Attorney’s Office alleging racial injustice.
Ellison Bennett, field coordinator for the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights, said he and others believed racism was involved because investigators only arrested three of the four people who were in the car at the time of the shooting. The three men originally arrested — Dedric K. Davis, Kyhem Johnson and Walter R. Ford — are black. Pocopanni, the fourth person in the car, is white.
The three victims in the shooting were black.
“When the family (of one of the victims) contacted us, they felt like it was an injustice and possibly a racial motive as to why Melissa Pocopanni was not arrested,” Bennett said. “So two weeks ago we had a meeting with Bill Eddins and Rodney Jones, president of the NAACP (Pensacola), and we expressed our concerns.”
Eddins said his office had done “nothing inappropriate” and initially did not have enough evidence to arrest Pocopanni.
“The initial investigation found that there were four people in the car, and we had sufficient evidence to arrest three of the people in the car but not the fourth,” Eddins said. “The fourth person happened to be white.”
Eddins said he asked NAACP officials to provide his office with information that could lead to Pocopanni’s arrest.
“Our investigation concluded today,” Eddins said. “We developed sufficient evidence to obtain an arrest warrant for the first person in the car, and she has been arrested.
“I am pleased that we were able to complete our investigation and place the appropriate charges against Mrs. Pocopanni," he added.
Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said the arrest warrant was in the process of being approved before the press conference.
“This case has been under investigation for quite some time,” Marcille said. “We had assigned an investigator to work on this case. He interviewed other witnesses, reviewed other evidence, and based on that additional investigation, we determined there was sufficient evidence to arrest (Pocopanni).”
Bennett said he could not speak for the families of the victims, but he was glad that progress had been made.
“As far as the National Movement for Civil and Human rights is concerned, we are satisfied that an arrest is made,” he said.
A spokesperson for the NAACP could not be reached immediately for comment