The neighbours 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 neighbours 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.’
Tragic: Pebbles Johnson, 17, (pictured) was found having been shot in the front yard. She was taken by police car to an ambulance but later died from her injuries
Young: Jazlin Johnson, 13, (left), and her brother Jaxs Johnson, 15, (right) were both killed in the shootings and Jaxs tried to gain entry into his neighbours house before he was killed but was refused entry
The neighbours made the 911 call as they responded to hearing gunfire coming from the property next door and went downstairs after their front door was knocked.
‘I knew this was gonna happen you guys,’ the crying female caller told the dispatcher as the deaths of Joel, 12, Jazlin, 13, Jaxs, 15, and Pebbles Johnson, 17 unfolded in front of their eyes.
‘The boy’s in our front yard – get him a towel – he’s got blood on his right side.’
During the chaotic phone call to dispatchers, the husband tells them that he is armed and willing to defend his house from the injured children trying to flee their murderous mother.
‘I grabbed my gun and ran outside and one’s laying there bleeding at the front door,’ the man is heard to say.
‘I don’t know who has the gun, so I’m not walking out there.
‘I’m armed, but not going out there and putting myself in danger.’
After asking the husband where the bleeding child had gone, the caller responded that ‘he went back to the residence.’
Suicide: Tanya Thomas, pictured in a police mug shot from a 2002 booking, killed her four children and herself on Tuesday morning
Soon after this the police arrived at 7245 Bright Avenue in Brevard County to see Thomas standing in the doorway of her front door holding a gun, before she went back inside.
Then the deputies discovered Pebbles lying fatally injured in the front yard of her house.
Shots were heard to ring out and as the deputies entered they discovered Jaxs, Jazzlyn, Joel and Tonya’s bodies shot to death.
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.
Dispatch records released on Tuesday show that authorities responded to Thomas’ house on three successive days in April.
In the first visit, on Easter Sunday, Thomas reported that her son had thrown a bicycle through a window at the house. The next day,
Thomas called to report that her son had kicked and punched her when she tried to wake him up for school.
The following day, child welfare investigators visited the house to look into allegations of inadequate supervision of the children.
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.
Neighbour Travis St. Peter, told Florida Today that the family was known in the area for being disruptive, with police often being called to the house.
‘They were just known for being hoodlums,’ he said of the children, adding that they were often seen running around late at night, ‘terrorizing our dogs and setting off firecrackers’.
Jamie Hudson, whose mother lives two doors down from the family, told the Miami Herald that the boys in the family were known to shoot BB guns at a home across the street and had threatened to set it on fire.
Victims: The four Johnson children are seen here in school pictures, clockwise from top left: Pebbles 17, Jaxs, 15, Joel, 12 and Jazlin, 13
A friend of Thomas told the Sentinel that he had woken to a text message sent by the woman at around 3am to say that she wished to be cremated along with her children. He did not see the message until he woke up this morning, hours after the killings.
Former Orange County Sheriff’s Department officer James Copenhaver told CFNews13.com that deputies would be analysing Thomas’ phone activity in the days leading up to the shooting. ‘This may also give some insight as to why she did this,’ he said.
More would be known, he said, after the 911 tapes were released, including how many emergency calls were made and potentially how many shots were fired.
Evidence: Brevard County Crime Scene Investigators look for clues at the scene of the shooting in Port St. John
Unable to speculate: Police said they don’t know what the mother’s motive was for killing her four children
He said that toxicology tests would be run on her to determine whether or not she was taking drugs and added that domestic violence would likely have been involved, based on past experience of similar cases.
On a live chat with the former officer someone who identified themselves only as ‘G’ wrote that Thomas was a ‘private, independent character’, adding that there were ‘so many components in her life’.
Standoff: Police were called to the Port St John scene at around 5am on Tuesday
Calm before the storm: The Port St John neighbourhood where the family lived
At least three of the children killed went to Space Coast Junior-Senior High School, according toCFNews13.com. Brevard Public Schools said grief counselors have been sent to the victims’ schools.
Brevard County Sheriff’s spokesman Tom Goodyear said that he was having a hard time trying to understand how a mother could commit such a grisly act.
‘I cannot comprehend as a parent doing this to their children … calling them back in and shooting them,’ he said.