Fourth Arrest Made in Milton Drive-by Murder

Tuesday afternoon, a fourth person was arrested for a drive-by shooting that killed 34-year-old Thomas Buckhalter.

Melissa Pocopanni, 19, was arrested at the Santa Rosa County jail. She is facing homicide and conspiracy charges.

Thomas Buckhalter’s family spoke out about the arrest, saying the diligence of local investigators is bringing them peace.

“They said they were gonna do it, they, sure enough, did it,” said Paula King, Thomas’ cousin, of the Milton Police’s efforts.  “They took their time but…. They made sure the t’s were crossed and the i’s were dotted before they got the ones they needed to get.”

King was just feet away when Thomas Buckhalter was fatally shot in February.  She said immediate action has gone a long way in the community.

“It was his job, but he did that from his heart,” King said of one investigator whose name she did not share.  “He kept everybody calm around here so there wouldn’t be no race war.”

Thomas’ sister, Julia says every arrest eases her pain.

“A lot of murders go unsolved here in Santa Rosa with our black males,” Julia Buckhalter said.  “But God knows, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost that I pray to….. ain’t going to let that go with my brother.”

She says there’s nothing like a mother’s pain when they lose a child, but the multiple arrests–with more arrests on the way–are bringing their family peace at night.

“For her to have to bury her baby…. Whatever they get they get,” Buckhalter said of the suspects.  “I hate that but it is what it is.”

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