Monday, May 21, 2018
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911 tape shows neighbors turned away kids who were shot

ORLANDO — Neighbors of a Florida mother who fatally shot her four children before killing herself weren't sure who was injured after hearing gunshots and refused to admit three of the woman's kids who were trying to get in their house, according to a 911 call released Wednesday.

"I knew this was gonna happen you guys," a crying female caller told dispatchers in the early Tuesday recording. "The boy's in our front yard — get him a towel — he's got blood on his right side."

Initially, the caller said one of the children said the youngest child shot the mother. Later, she said the children told her husband their mother was shooting at them.

Amid the confusion, the caller apparently warned one of the children not to enter her home.

"Get back, you're not coming in our house," she can be heard saying in the recording.

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.

Autopsies began Wednesday and are expected to conclude Thursday, although results aren't expected for at least six weeks.

The shooting happened in Port St. John, about 15 miles west of Cape Canaveral in an area known as the "Space Coast" because it is the home of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, the location of numerous shuttle launches.

The caller's husband also voiced safety concerns to the dispatcher because of the uncertain situation.

"I don't know who has the gun, so I'm not walking out there," the 911 caller's husband said just before the call ended and deputies arrived at Thomas' house. "I'm armed, but not going out there and putting myself in danger."

A second 911 recording indicates the dispatcher called the neighbors back and the woman who made the initial 911 call spoke of an Easter Day incident in which she said one of the children kicked out some windows at Thomas' house.

The woman then interrupted her story, telling the dispatcher she could see Thomas walking around the yard with a gun.

"It's dark out there and she was in the house when we first called," she said. "The kids were in the front yard with one banging on the door, 'Help us, help us.' Like I said, there was so much confusion going on this morning that we couldn't tell who shot who."

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