1 charged with murder, attempted murder following Ponce de Leon shooting

PONCE DE LEON – A Jackson County man is in custody after an altercation during a child custody exchange resulted in a fatal shooting at the rest area located just off I-10 in Ponce de Leon.


Holmes County Sheriff John Tate stated the HCSO Communications Center received multiple calls shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, May 2, regarding the shooting. Within minutes, deputies arrived on scene, where they discovered 35-year-old Dereck Todd Thompson of Pensacola lying deceased in the parking lot from an apparent gunshot wound to the chest.


Deputies also located 29-year-old Mariah Maps of Pensacola who had been critically wounded from a gunshot. Although critically injured, Maps, was able to communicate with deputies on scene and provide them with information critical to the investigation, including identifying the shooter as 48-year-old Latorish Antonio Gardner of Marianna.


“What we know so far from the investigation is that Mr. Gardner and Ms. Maps have children together and meet at the rest area to do child exchange quite often,” said Sheriff Tate. “Today, they met to do a child exchange, and at some point during the exchange, Ms. Maps and Mr. Gardner got into a physical altercation. During the altercation, Mr. Thompson got out of the vehicle, broke the fight up and made Ms. Maps get back in the vehicle. Then Mr. Thompson and Mr. Gardner got into an altercation.”

Sheriff Tate went on to say that it was during that altercation that Gardner fatally shot Thompson before turning his attention on Maps, who he chased through the parking lot while firing at her. Maps attempted to escape by getting in a bystander’s vehicle but was struck by a bullet, which then passed through her and into the occupied vehicle.

Gardner then gathered up the children and fled the area. Jackson County Sheriff’s Office was able to converge at his home and take him into custody without incident less than an hour later. 

Gardner is charged with an open count of murder and one count of attempted murder. More charges are pending.

Officials state that Maps is in critical condition at a Ft. Walton hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.[cqmedia layout=”carousel” content=”eyJwaG90byI6W10sInZpZGVvIjpbeyJtZWRpYV90eXBlIjoidmlkZW8iLCJwaG90b19pZCI6IjQyOTMiLCJwaG90b19jYXB0aW9uIjoiSG9sbWVzIENvdW50eSBTaGVyaWZmIEpvaG4gVGF0ZSBhbmQgSmFja3NvbiBDb3VudHkgU2hlcmlmZiBEb25uaWUgRWRlbmZpZWxkIGdpdmUgYW4gdXBkYXRlIG9uIHRoZSBzaG9vdGluZyB0aGF0IG9jY3VycmVkIGF0IHRoZSBQb25jZSBEZSBMZW9uIHJlc3QgYXJlYSBvbiBNYXkgMi4iLCJwaG90b19jcmVkaXQiOiJDQVJPTCBLRU5UIFdZQVRUIHwgVGltZXMtQWR2ZXJ0aXNlciJ9XSwiZmlsZSI6W119″]

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