‘I cried so much,’ schoolmate says after 4 kids slain
Sheriff's deputies and SWAT team members converged on a Port St. John home early Tuesday after reports of shootings.
May 16th, 2012
01:25 PM ET

‘I cried so much,’ schoolmate says after 4 kids slain

Friends of four Florida children who police say were fatally shot by their mother reacted with tears and stunned silence Tuesday when they found out their classmates were dead.

Student Malcolm Murray, a friend of slain teenager Jaxs Johnson, said the killings were announced over the loudspeaker Tuesday at Space Coast Junior-Senior High School in Cocoa, Florida, where Johnson and two of his siblings attended.

"It's unfair she had to take his life," Murray told CNN affiliate WKMG. "I cried so much I can’t cry anymore."

Authorities said Tonya Thomas, 33, killed her four children - Joel Johnson, 12; Jazlin Johnson, 13; Jaxs Johnson, 15; and Pebbles Johnson, 17 – before fatally shooting herself early Tuesday at their home in Port St. John.

Some of the children went to a neighbor’s home to say that their mother was shooting them, but they returned to their house when Thomas called them back and Thomas shot them again, killing them, Brevard County Sheriff’s Lt. Tod Goodyear said, according to WKMG.

“After we found out who died at our school, no one really wanted to talk,” student Jacob Nelson, who sat next to Jaxs Johnson in history class, told CNN affiliate WESH. “It was just really hard to digest what really happened and how it happened.”

Goodyear said police don’t know of a motive in the shooting. Friends and court documents, however, revealed that Jaxs and his mother were having difficulties.

Jaxs was arrested in April on a domestic violence charge, accused of fighting with his mother when she tried to wake him up for school, WKMG and WESH reported. He was supposed to appear in juvenile court on Tuesday in connection with the case, according to WKMG.

Friends said Jaxs didn’t appear in school on Monday, WKMG reported. Officials said they believe Jaxs was the first child shot on Tuesday morning, according to WESH.

Murray said Jaxs, when they last spoke, said things were getting better at home.

“(Jaxs) said everything was good in the family and they were getting back to the way they used to be, so for this to happen, I broke down, because I didn’t see it coming at all,” Murray told WKMG.

The children's father did not live with the family and was distraught after hearing of the killings, the affiliates reported.

Friends and relatives left a teddy bear, notes, candles and flowers outside the home on Tuesday, CNN affiliate CFN13 reported.

“We want people to know that they weren’t forgotten, no matter what happened today,” neighbor Tony Amador told WKMG.

High school student Corbin Wratchford said Pebbles Johnson was in his physics class.

"She just brought the classroom to life," Wratchford told CFN13. "The teacher loved her. She made everything else better.

“I had a class with Jaxs Johnson, too. He was in my team sports class, and he was also really fun.”

The victims’ schools said they made grief counselors available to students Wednesday.

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Filed under: Crime • Florida
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. mamanas

    this family was in some serious crisis situation. I know Florida like many states have had families/children fall through the cracks. People complain that they don't want their tax money going to helping struggling families and yet are the first to ask: What and How did this happen??

    May 16, 2012 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  2. DC

    Florida, more than just a gun-shaped state...

    May 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • keyser

      That was pretty good. And accurate. It is, after all, the NRA State.

      May 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Paul

    Naturally I feel horrible for the children. But what makes me feel even worse is how despondent the cop on the left of the picture looks. I seriously hope his superiors get him some counseling. It has to be a mind blowing scene and no one should have to witness that without professional help and support.

    May 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    White republican? Yes I am. Pro guns? Yes. Do I care if these kids were black? No. Do I care if these childen (all under 18), were abused. Yes. Do I care if they couldn't defend themselves...ABSOLUTLEY!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • CM

      Absolutely right! We need to give guns to children so they can protect themselves from their parents waking them up for school!

      May 16, 2012 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Lee

    It all boils down to mental illness. No body in their right minds could have done this to their children. Sad..very sad that this wasn't found out sooner

    May 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. billybob


    May 16, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Without disclosing too many details, my wife and I couldn't have any more kids after 1982. I have two kids, that turned into wonderful adults. Not very often any more, I think from time to time about more kids, and my wife insures we could always adopt. God blessed me so much already. Just be satisfied my current state, I tell myself.
    I know the moment I pop the question, where in the world are these kids' father....I'm immediatly profiled as a "racist". Because I don't live and let live. But there's no mention of him...is there? Does he realize all his effort wound up with nothing more than dead offspring? I could never face the world if that was me.
    Sorry. I have to leave. This is really upsetting me badly. Look for me in another thread.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. KWS

    It makes you really, really hope that the whole boiling lava pit, pitchforks and torture version of hell is true. May she bathe in it for eternity!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    God bless the Johnson children. May G_d bless them and keep them in his Eternal light, and everlasting eternal salvation. Rest In Peace!

    May 16, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ImpishLisa

    I talked to my kids about this today. the neighbor should have locked the door, took the kids to a safe part of the place, called 911 and let the cops sort it out. When children , wittily slow or other helpless people come to us and ask for help,we OWE it to them. Imagine their guilt! I don't give a shoot what a parent says, if the kid tells me they are being beaten or abused, I am calling cops and keeping the kid from them until the cops arrive.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Nadine

    The neighbors failed those kids, miserably! The kids should have been taken in the neighbors house for protection and the Police called.....BEFORE she killed the kids. This didn't have to be.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  12. O my science

    Damn the neighbor who let the kids go back to mom suckz.

    May 16, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Woody

    I blame the churches for not dealing with the real world and saying God will fix it all from the time people are kids . We are told to pray and everything will be ok when reality states life just doesn't work that way . False hopes bring despair and even deeper anxiety . The church wants people to have kids that many have no way to support . I can't even begin to imagine the horror these kids felt but due to my father being an alcoholic I started sleeping with a gun under my pillow starting at the age of 13 .

    May 16, 2012 at 6:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • kait

      Dont blame the churches. Yes we are supposed to have faith and seek out a good out come but is that real reality? no. There are plenty of other religions to hate on out there so why is it that Christians are the ones who are always picked on? What have we done rather then try to help people and bring them to God to have eternal life in heaven. Life is hard and if it wasn't then what would life be like? We have freedom of choice from God and the mom chose to shoot her children. God DID NOT tell her to do that. Everything happens for a reason and its not, every single time the Christians fault.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Harkkonen4

    So unbelieveable... the kids went BACK to the house after she'd already opened fire on one of them ? There's probably more to this story ; but it's all so tragic ! If you're having trouble with your kids you may not be able to deal with it by yourself -get some outside help. You don't end their lives !
    I cannot bring myself (just yet) to feel sympathy for their mom. But then I haven't walked in her shoes, either.
    May the children rest in peace.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Eric459

    More kids being shot what is this world coming to =/

    May 16, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
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