Recordings of 911 calls and autopsy results released Friday provide a window into the predawn chaos on Tuesday when Florida mother Tonya Thomas apparently shot and killed her four children and then killed herself, WESH Orlando reported.
Neighbors — a husband and wife awakened by loud banging on their door and cries for help — called police to report the disturbance.
In conversations with police dispatchers, it became apparent that the disoriented couple had three neighbor kids outside their door in Port St. John, Fla. From the recordings –- parts of which were broadcast by WESH -- it was clear that they knew at least one of the children was bleeding, but they were uncertain who had been shot and who had a gun.
"They tried to break in our front door to get in, I guess, to get away from her, whoever’s got the gun," the unidentified man, who apparently is sharing the phone with his wife, says on the initial call, according to the WESH video. "So I grabbed my gun and ran outside and one of them is laying there bleeding right there at our front door."
"He's bleeding at the front door," the dispatcher repeats, and then asks: "Is he still there?"
"No, he went back home," the man responds.
Dispatcher: "And he went back inside the residence?"
"I guess," the man responds in the recording on WESH. "I don't know who has the gun so I'm not walking out there."
According to WESH's video, the man tells the dispatcher as the sound of shooting next door continued: "I'm armed, but I’m not going out there and put myself in danger."
The woman says, her voice cracking, "I knew this was going to happen," according to the account by Florida Today.
Later the news emerged that all of the children and their mother were dead.
Police believe that Thomas, 33, shot to death all four of her children — Joel, Jazzlyn, Jaxs and Pebbles Johnson.
Jaxs, 15, sustained three gunshots to his chest, two with the gun pressed up against his skin, according to an autopsy report released Friday, WESH reported. He was apparently sleeping on the couch at the time.
Pebbles, 17, was shot three times from a distance, according to the autopsy.
Joel, 12, was shot five times and his sister Jazzlyn, 13, had been shot seven times. The two younger children were found near each other, WESH reported, citing the autopsy.
Thomas was found in the garage with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, it said.
It was unclear what made the children go back to their home, where they were finally shot to death.
"There’s a possibility that they were just in shock," Brevard County Sheriff's spokesman Tod Goodyear told WESH.
Police and social workers were aware of turbulence in the home prior to the tragedy.
Police answered a call on April 9 from Thomas that son Jaxs had battered her in a fight after she tried to get him out of bed, Florida Today reported.
Jaxs was due in court Tuesday on the criminal charges for that alleged assault, it said.
Records released Friday by the Department of Families and Children also show social workers had three contacts with Thomas and her children over the past decade, Florida Today reported.
In 2000 there was a domestic violence incident between Thomas and the children's father Joe Johnson that temporarily sent Thomas to a shelter and caused the children to be removed from the home. They reunited not long after, against the advice of the agency, according to Florida Today.
In April, Thomas told social workers that her son Jaxs had anger management problem, records show.
However, the social work records show that the siblings talked with social workers and told them that they felt safe in the home, according to the Florida Today account.
Family friend Rachel DeCamp said Thomas was working through a number of personal issues, the report said.
"She was a mother dealing with teenagers. She was having some financial problems, she was on food stamps. Then the father of her children had just gotten out of jail and was trying to make amends and she didn’t want to be with him," DeCamp told Florida Today.
Later on Friday, the husband in the 911 recordings said he and his wife had received death threats due to press reports that they had refused entry to the wounded kids. In a statement obtained by WESH, the man describes his efforts to help them before making the call, and the horror and confusion over who was doing the shooting.
He also said that Thomas and the kids had come to them numerous times in the past for help, which they were more than willing to offer.
"My wife and I are emotionally devastated," the man said in the statement.
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