‘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. Meandeloise

    For those of you saying the mother was mentally ill, PLEASE STOP. Stop making excuses for sick people like them. If it was like that why don't we say every murderer, every killer is mentally ill and it's not their fault. So please STOP making excuses.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Meandeloise

    To "Woody" and "just saying", shut your mouth and close your legs. God has given you a brain, use it. Nobody said to keep having kids, unless you're abusing the government support by using up all the taxpayers money to get food stamps and other government support.

    May 16, 2012 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Alicia

    So sad & completely senseless that a mother would take the lives of her children that she gave birth to....they are now safe as angels.....

    May 16, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. baseball critic

    omg keeping them in my prayers...all of them...the kids...the classmates...the mom...yes the mom...she was really messed up 2 do something like that...may the Lord deliver her

    May 16, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
  5. clearmind

    Where is Al Sharpton? Four unarmed children were murdered! where are the other groups who were outraged by the killing of an unarmed child. If they were truly just outraged and it wasnt about race before Where are they?

    May 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Yes

      Agreed. The mother should be arrested and brought to justice... 0_o

      May 17, 2012 at 1:47 am | Report abuse |
    • CMB n SC

      clearmind you need to clear your mind and get a life.

      May 17, 2012 at 7:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachael

      Al Sharpton is not needed. The person who did the killing is dead and therefore does not need to be arrested. Get over it.

      May 17, 2012 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
    • ladydi

      YES – did you not read the article? She killed herself after killing her kids – SHE'S DEAD!!!!

      May 17, 2012 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  6. Michael Preston

    Bless her and her children and pray God gives her another chance, and if you have anything mean to say I think your cruel,heartless and probably not bright.

    May 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Michael Preston

    I thought this was about Mary Kennedy.

    May 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
  8. michael

    What with the photo at the head of the story? Why do two cops have to patrol with m16's over this? Are they afraid that those dead people might hurt them? Well at least the one on the right does not need a vest..The 50 doughnuts it looks like he/she/it ate the day before should stop any bullets fired by these dead people.

    May 16, 2012 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • melvinslizard

      The SWAT team responded after the children reported that they were being shot, genius. Ever worn a bulletproof vest? Go back to your Cheerios.

      May 17, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  9. Soji oyeranmi

    Is the world coming to an end and starting from America? Yesterday it was an armed volunteer guard killing an unarmed kid; today,a mother actually murdered her four kids before committing suicide.All of this happenning in God's own Country? God save America!

    May 17, 2012 at 1:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. phina nkiruka lgwenagu

    God no matter what l am going thru in life,dont and never allow me to take the life of my children away.

    May 17, 2012 at 2:28 am | Report abuse |
  11. .

    Sad. Just plain sad. More people having children without thinking or preparing themselves for what it takes to support and raise them.

    We talk too much about reproductive rights while we ignore reproductive responsibilities, including the responsibility needed to raise children.

    And liberals think da gubmint can step in and do it for us.

    More's the pity.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. Always USAF

    There is to much violence. When are people going to learn that we need to talk things out. I am so sorry for those left to deal with this.

    May 17, 2012 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Listen

    They should check to see if the father of those children abused the mother to make her get that way! The police should do a big check on the father,think,why the son live with the mother and not the father? Boys need a man and the girls need a women. So,why did he not have
    The boys? What is up with that? And how can anyone let or allow someone to harm another whom are helpless?

    May 17, 2012 at 7:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Listen

    The law should get to the bottom of this mess! Check every spot for clues! There should be something to tell what happen! What went wrong! Why now? Don't anyone know any signs? How are the cops in Florida? Will they know what to check around for? Yes,the person that did the killings is dead! But,we need to find out why and what went wrong! This way people will know what to do when they see things before they get this far and can help!

    May 17, 2012 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Listen

    I bet! That if all schools teached the word of God! Less bitterness would be around. People should Not be afraid to talk about God to anyone! Only you who read this can make a change to pass God's love : ) you just may safe a life or many! I send you all peace and love! May God bless you all and that he protect.

    May 17, 2012 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
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