Port Saint Johns, Florida - How many times have you heard a mother say that they brought them into this world and they would also take them out? 33-year-old Tonya Thomas did just that over the weekend. She pulled out a gun and murdered her 4 children in cold blood.
One by one Pebbles Johnson, 17; Jaxs Johnson, 15; Jazlin Johnson, 13; and Joel Johnson, 12; were shot in a murder /suicide at the hands of their own mother.
Three of the 4 children went to the neighbor’s house to tell them that they had been shot by their mother. Thomas called the kids back home and murdered them on sight before killing herself.
Pebbles was found dead in the front yard.
At this time the mental capacity of the children and why they choose to return home after being shot by their mom is unknown.
Earlier that morning around 1.am.Thomas sent a text to a family friend stating that she wants to be cremated with her children, but the text was not retrieved until later that morning well after the 4:30 a.m. murders had already occurred.
The text is an indication that it was premeditated, Deputy Goodyear said.
“A bad part of the investigation is that we may not get the why. Unless she left a note somewhere or told somebody, she may have taken it to the grave.”
The shootings are the worst homicides to take place in Brevard County since 1987.
According to Goodyear, a neighbor heard gun shots. Minutes later two of the children arrived on his doorstep. One of the boys, police believe it was Joel, was covered in blood and told the neighbor his mom had shot them. The oldest child, Pebbles, could be seen walking back towards the family home, Goodyear said.
The children’s mother came outside and lured the kids back into the house.
“She was very calm, called them in,” Goodyear said. “She didn’t seem to be stressed or mad, just stepped out. She walked out and said ‘come home.’”
The neighbors called police immediately who heard gunshots upon arrival.
“We set up a perimeter, found the oldest girl lying in the yard and took her out to ambulance,” Goodyear said.
EMTs pronounced Pebbles dead in the ambulance and a SWAT team was called for further investigation. Police say they heard another gun shot. Officers found the other three kids and Thomas all dead in the back of the house.
Goodyear says the father of the family lives in Titusville, Fla., and hadn’t been home in a few months.
The family has a history of domestic violence.
In April, Jaxs threw a bicycle through a window in the house and threatened Thomas, according to a police report.
That next day, when she woke him up for school, he kicked and punched her repeatedly, the report said. She pushed back and they began to scuffle.
Police were called later that day and police say neighbors often complained of hearing shouts and yells emanating from the house.
Records also showed that Thomas was arrested in 2002 on a misdemeanor battery charge for striking the father of her children. The charge was later dropped. Two years earlier, she filed a domestic violence complaint against Joe Johnson, but that was dismissed after a hearing.
Jamie Hudson, whose mother lives two doors down from the family, said the boys in the family were known to shoot BBs at a home across the street and had threatened to set it on fire.
“It has been an ongoing problem on our street with them,” Hudson said.
Goodyear said Jaxs Johnson had recently been arrested on a domestic violence charge. He said he didn’t know if the boy had been accused of hitting his mother or causing damage at the house.
Austin Lewis, a 16-year-old classmate of Pebbles Johnson, said the family “had problems like everybody else but nothing that drastic.”
He described Pebbles Johnson as “very loving and caring.”
“Always with a smile,” Lewis said. “Didn’t let anything affect her. She was always in a good mood.”
A pastor at the church the family attended described it as “normal stuff.”
“I think he was punching some walls or something,” said Jarvis Wash, pastor of the Real Church in Rockledge, Fla.
“I don’t know what could have happened in the past couple of days,” Wash said. “It’s a tragedy to the church and the community.”
The neighbors of the Florida woman who fatally shot her four children and herself, refused to open the doors to three of the frantic children who had fled to their house.
During a recording of a 911 call made by the neighbors on the night of the attack by Tonya Thomas, 33, a crying female caller can be heard to say, ‘Get back, you’re not coming in our house.’
The caller’s husband then grabbed the phone and told the dispatcher, ‘They tried to break in our front door to get in, I guess to try and get away from her – who-ever’s got the gun.’
WATCH VIDEO AND LISTEN TO AUDIO BELOW
It has to be difficult being a young mom, trying to raise 4 teenage kids on your own with no male figure in the household…. This is truly sad in every way.