Report: Mother shot kids at very close range

(CNN) - The Florida woman who killed her four children before committing suicide last week used hollow-point bullets fired at very close range, no more than 2 feet away, according to a report from Florida Today.

The newspaper cites a report from Brevard County District Medical Examiner Sajid Qaiser on the deaths of Tonya Thomas, 33, and her children, Pebbles Johnson, 17, Jaxs Johnson, 15, Jazzlyn Johnson, 13, and Joel Johnson, 12. Attempts by CNN to gain access to the report have not been successful.

According to the Florida Today story, there were 19 gunshot wounds to Tonya Thomas and her children. All the shots came from a Taurus .38-caliber revolver, the paper reported.

Jazzlyn was shot the most, seven times, according to the report, with two of those shots coming when the gun was touching her chest.

Joel was shot five times, the paper reported.

Jaxs took three bullets in his chest, the report said.

"The shots were taken at contact range, where the muzzle of the gun was touching the body surface," Florida Today quotes Qaiser as saying.

Pebbles was also shot three times, according to the report.

Gun store owner Herb Stratton told Florida Today the Taurus .38-caliber can hold six shots, meaning Thomas would have reloaded three times during the shootings.

Police said last week that three of the children had gone to a neighbor's house in Port St. John to say their mother had shot them. Tonya Thomas then called them back home before killing them.

Police said last week they didn't know of a motive in the shooting. Friends and court documents, however, revealed that Jaxs and his mother were having difficulties.

James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, told CNN last week the circumstances appear to be a case of "suicide by proxy," in which a family member takes the lives of her loved ones "out of a warped sense of love" before killing herself.

"Typically, the perpetrator is suicidal, feels life is miserable and doesn't want to go on," Fox said. "But why does she take her children? Because she wished to be reunited with them in the afterlife or wants to spare them the misery of this life."


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