“Help Us, Help Us”: 911 Calls Reveal Confusion Before Mom Shoots 4 Kids, Self
As investigators continue to work through what might have led a Port St. John woman to shoot her four children before taking her own life, newly released 911 calls show a great deal of confusion occurring just before the shootings occurred.
On one of the 911 calls made around 4:50 a.m., a female neighbor initially tells the dispatcher one of the kids who knocked on her door said, a young boy just shot his mom. Moments later, she learns that this is not correct and is told that it’s the mother who shot the kids.
The neighbor tells the dispatcher that “we have had the police here before,” implying that deputies had come before to the home of 33-year-old Tanya Thomas on 7245 Bright Avenue in Port St. John.
Early on Tuesday morning, Thomas embarked on a shooting spree, killing her four children, 12-year-old Joel Johnson, 13-year-old Jazlin Johnson, 15-year-old Jax Johnson and 17-year-old Pebbles Johnson, Brevard County Sheriff’s Office investigators said.
On the first 911 made by the neighbors, someone could be heard saying, “Get back, you are not coming in our house.”
The dispatcher is told that one of the kids is in the front yard and he has blood on his right side. The female neighbor also says, “he is going back to his house now.”
A cordless phone passes between the female neighbor and a male who tells the dispatcher that “they tried to break in our front door to get in, I guess to get away from her – whoever has the gun.”
“Help us, Help us,” he says the kids were saying as they banged on his front door. The man confirms that one of the kids is bleeding right at his front door and has subsequently returned home.
The neighbors are clearly distraught and tell the dispatcher they are staying in the house and not going outside.
“I don’t know who has the gun. I am armed, but I am not walking out there to put myself in danger,” the man says, after he grabs his own gun.
Believing that sufficient time has passed for deputies to arrive on the scene, the man says he can’t believe that no one has arrived yet. The dispatcher says that two deputies are already there and have been for a minute.
Then, more gunshots ring out.
Female neighbor: She is still over there shooting; whoever is shooting.
911 Dispatcher: You still are hearing gunshots?
Female neighbor: Yes, its like six.
911 Dispatcher: OK. I have units out there. Just stay in the house. O.K?
The 911 dispatcher calls the neighbors back several times, asking questions which perhaps she forgot in the confusion. The dispatcher wants to know how many people live in the house and the ages of the children.
The dispatcher keeps the neighbor on the line, but the woman, obviously afraid says she is going into the bathroom, but not before enquiring whether the cops have arrived.
The dispatcher responds that there are a couple of units already there and that a helicopter is on the way.
Female neighbor: The mother is outside now. She is the one with the gun.
911 Dispatcher: We are in the area; we are setting up a good perimeter.
The neighbor says, before she awoke, she heard two shots as she slept. She thought she was dreaming, then she heard pounding on the door, then two more shots.
“We didn’t know what the heck was going on,” the woman says.
Sobbing, the woman tells the dispatcher that “we have had problems ever since these guys moved in. There have been problems over there.”
Thomas had called 911 on Easter Sunday, last month, requesting that deputies come to her house. She claimed her son had threatened to beat her and he had thrown a bicycle into the house.
The following day, Thomas again called 911 claiming her son, Jaxs, had attacked her after she had gone to his room to wake him up to go to school.
It is still not clear why Thomas shot her four children, then turned the gun on herself.