‘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. Stacey

    i just lost my son and devastated doesn't even come close to how i feel. i don't see how any parent can take their child's life. i hope she forever burns in Hell

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

    Let us all pray for our dying world, that these do not happen. Our world is dying, because of sin, Thou Shall Not Kill , is one of the ten Commandments. It. Is time, to believe the gospel of JESUS CHRIST

    May 16, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chris

      Religion has nothing to do with it. To insinuate that it does is preaching from the uninformed. The mother was obviously mentally ill.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • martin

      Could be another "believer" mother sending her kids to Jesus. Matthew 10:34 – 36: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a 'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies will be the members of his own household." So much for family values from "Jesus"

      May 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • LIZ

      May God keep them in his glory and forever find peace, Amen

      May 16, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Trisha

    Florida...what in Heaven's name is wrong with that state?

    May 16, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Boater39

      I live in Florida.... Would you like a list?

      May 16, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      The people and the laws, or lack of.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark longhurst

      once again, why did she have agun , was it legal, who gave it to her, who allowed it in the house with kids-now you nra nuts will say she could have used a knife , but atleast a couple of them may have got away-America you are eating your own kind -enough with guns already

      May 16, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TeeTee

    Mental illness is an evil spirit, it is no excuse for murder. This world is just going mad. The reason why, the world wants to forget God. Sad story.

    May 16, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Woody

    Try to raise 4 kids on your own as a woman especially on low wages . Today it cost 225,000.00 to raise one child to age 18 . My mother and father got a divorce and as a kid growing up I watched my mother go to work a day after she had her stomach opened up for surgery . Most of you have no idea as all of us kids had to go to work full time before the age of 15 . And yes there are people in the U.S. that hire under age people . Most times they just pay them cash . Try it sometime as if this woman was not having mental problems before she had kids trying to raise 4 kids as a low wage mother will just about put a woman in a mental ward . Society makes a lot of money off the poor . Expecially abortion clinics , jails, and adoption agencies . Society creates its own problems by keeping people down . Even today woman make less than men in the same job .

    May 16, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Michelle

      "Society makes a lot of money off the poor . Expecially abortion clinics , jails, and adoption agencies ."

      Funny...if this woman had availed of the services of an adoption agency, these four kids wouldn't have DIED AT HER HANDS.

      May 16, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • just saying

      Woody- true it cost alot to raise kids. I raised three on my own with no help from my ex or anyone else. It was very hard and we never had much. I worked my way through college and things improved. However nothing could/ would have gotten me to the point of harming my kids. Ok so shes distraut or having a mental breakdown, been there, anyway why not just take her own life. Im sick of hearing of parents killing their innocent kids first. Im not sure what her financial situation was but if these background pics are an indication, not too shabby. Not that thats an excuse. Please stop the madness. Give your kids to family or someone who can help.

      May 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Woody

    Unless you work as a social worker you would have no idea how crazy it actually is out there . Social workers can not even begin to deal with the overload of people needing help . For most people reality is out of sight out of mind . Just wait till you get old and end up in a hospital or nursing home only than will you understand how understaffed agencies are that need to deal with people that need help in all different areas . The government continues its cuts .

    May 16, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Salvadore

    Why did the 911 callers never help the kid after he was lying bleeding what a horrible scenario.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mm

    Why didn't the neighbor make them stay put when they said their mom was shooting them??!!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • R. W.

      I keep asking myself the same thing. I don't get it!

      May 16, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daisy

      Maybe because the mother had a gun and would have just walked next door and shot them all.

      May 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pedo Bear

    Aw dang! Three less off mah list! ='(

    May 16, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dana

    Allot of people weren't convinced yesterday the family was black, any more doubters?

    May 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daisy

      What difference does it make?

      May 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ma & pa

    Joey at 5:06pm...you know the subject. Children of such an impossibe parent are terrified of thinking to disobey and are brainwashed into thinking that the world is more dangerous and rejecting than the deadly parent, and will run right home like little robots, when called. We would have ended like them except mother couldn't collect insurance if it didn't look accidental. By the strength of God we broke her hold on us and stayed free. God want's us to live. Evil sets us up to fail. Those children and the mother are in different spaces. God bless the innocents.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Diana

    No matter how much a MOTHER struggles with her kids, a MOTHER should always put her kids first no matter what!!! How do we "OK" this animal who could have just walked away from her kids -VS- killing them!!! I can tbeleive some of you are actually defending this animal. Give your children LIFE not TAKE their lives!!!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Ted

    I work in a school and feel badly for the family and also the students of the schools. For the Junior-Senior high to make an announcement over the intercom is ridiculous regardless of the size of the school. It's done in small groups or in person, not over the intercom. Wow!

    May 16, 2012 at 8:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. reality check

    Of course the son had an arrest record.

    May 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Meandeloise

    Oh God, heal this world.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
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