|Pebbles Johnson (17), Jaxs Johnson (15), Joel Johnson (12), and Jazzlyn Johnson (13)|
Investigators are taking a closer look at a recent domestic abuse call involving a 33-year-old mother who apparently went on a shooting spree and killed her four children and herself during an early morning confrontation, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigators report.How does a parent shoot her own child? It is beyond belief. More from the story:
The Port St. John shootings were the single worst instance of multiple homicides to take place in Brevard County since the April 1987 shootings in Palm Bay involving William Cruse. Cruse killed six people, including two Palm Bay police officers, during a shooting spree. It also was the second fatal shooting to take place in Port St. John -- an enclave of residential areas off of U.S. 1 in north Brevard -- in the past week.The residents of Port St. John must be in shock at these recent shootings. Guns and domestic problems just do not go together.
UPDATE (5/18/12): Some more details on what happened that fateful day. A neighbor had called 911, but refused to give refuge to three of the children who wound up shot. From the article (we've added the bolding where names are identified):
The caller's husband told a dispatcher in the 911 call that the children were frantically trying to enter their house.
"They tried to break in our front door to get in, I guess to try to get away from her — whoever's got the gun," he told the dispatcher. "So I grabbed my gun and ran outside and one's laying there bleeding at the front door."
The dispatcher then asked where the bleeding child went and was told that "he went back to the residence."
That's because the mother — Tonya Thomas, 33 — had come out of her house and called the children home, Brevard County Sheriff's officials said.
The children complied and when deputies went to Thomas' house, they found her dead of a self-inflicted wound. Her children — Jaxs Johnson, 15; Jazzlyn Johnson, 13; and Joel Johnson, 12 — were fatally shot inside the house. A fourth child, Pebbles Johnson, 17, was found shot to death in the front yard of a neighbor's house.
Authorities said they have no motive for the killings and are not sure why the children followed the mother's orders to return back to their house.
UPDATE (5/22/12): More details on the shooting from CNN:
The Florida woman who killed her four children before committing suicide last week used jacketed hollow-point bullets fired at very close range, no more than 2 feet away, according to the Brevard County District Medical Examiner.
Medical Examiner Sajid Qaiser said Tonya Thomas, 33, fired a Taurus .38-caliber gun, hitting her children 18 times before taking her own life. Most of the wounds on Pebbles Johnson, 17; Jaxs Johnson, 15; Jazzlyn Johnson, 13; and Joel Johnson, 12, were on the fronts of their bodies, indicating they were shot as their mother faced them, Qaiser said.
Qaiser said none of the children or their mother had major defensive wounds, indicating that there was no significant struggle before or during the shootings. Thomas then placed the gun in her mouth and pulled the trigger, killing herself.
Jazzlyn was shot the most, seven times. The gunshots perforated her lung three times as well as her spleen, pancreas, stomach and spine, Qaiser said.
Joel was shot five times. Jaxs took three bullets in his chest.
“Many of the shots were taken at contact range," Qaiser said. "You can tell from the wounds and the clothing that the muzzle of the gun was pressed against the clothing, the body."
Pebbles was also shot three times.
Gun store owner Herb Stratton told Florida Today that the Taurus .38-caliber can hold six shots, meaning Thomas reloaded three times during the shootings.