The NAACP Pensacola Branch and the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights held a joint press conference at 10:00 am on April 18th at NAACP Headquarters at 615 N. “W” Street in Pensacola. The press conference was held concerning the non-arrest of the fourth person, a white female, that was in the car that was involved in a murder, drive-by shootings, and an attempted murder on an Ashley Johns, a Black female of approximately 23 years old. The other three passengers in the car were allegedly African-American males. The newly elected President of the Pensacola Branch, Minister Rodney Jones was joined by the H.K. Matthews, National President of the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights, Ellison Bennett, National Board and Field Coordinator of the National Movement for Civil and Human Rights, and Thelma Roby is also serving as a National Board Member of the organization.
The press conference was held in response to the State Attorney stating that he did not have enough evidence to arrest the white female, Melissa Pocapanni, who was also in the car involved in the February 4th events. The parents and family members of the three arrested African American males attended the press conference and made statements of the alibis of the three males not being in the car, but at home with their family during the night of February 4th.
The warrant affidavit stated that on February 4, 2017, at approximately 22:46 hours, Milton Police were dispatched to a shooting complaint in the rear of 6630 Applegate Street in Milton. Quindarius DeRamus, Thomas Buckhalter, Ashley Johns, and Jermun Naim were all standing around a burn barrel in the rear of 6630 Applegate Street. DeRamus noticed a red car drive by the location very slowly and recognized that the car belonged to Melissa Pocapanni. When the vehicle was even with the burn barrel, gun shots were fired from the passenger side windows. Buckhalter, Johns, and Naim were hit by the gunfire. Buckhalter was announced dead at Santa Rosa Medical Center. Johns received two gunshot wounds to his chest and Naim received a gunshot in his foot.
Both civil rights organizations stood together on their concern that Pocapanni should have also been arrested along with the three African-American males in the vehicle. Following the press conference the Chief Assistant State Attorney, Gregory Marcelle, informed the Gulf Coast Voice that the State Attorney’s conducted further follow-up investigations on the case and charged Pocapanni on a first count of conspiracy to commit robbery and a second count of second degree murder. Pocapanni was arrested on these charges on Tuesday afternoon, April 18th. The Gulf Coast Voice will follow the judicial process and report back to our readers the events as they take place.