Wednesday, 16 May 2012
A mother shot and killed her four children before turning a gun on herself in a small town in Florida.
The victims, aged 12, 13, 15 and 17, were shot by their mother Tonya Thomas at their house in Brevard County, 15 miles from Nasa's Kennedy Space Centre.
A neighbour told police that three of the children had banged on his door shortly before 5am on Tuesday before Thomas, 33, ordered them home.
Shortly afterward police were called after reports of gunfire.
Police spokesman Tod Goodyear said when officers arrived they found a 17-year-old girl lying in the front garden of the house. She was declared dead at the scene.
More shots were then heard from inside the house as an armed response unit arrived.
Mr Goodyear added: "They heard shots as the Swat team arrived. They put together two entry teams, entered the residence through the back... and in clearing the residence found four persons fatally wounded inside."
Mr Goodywar said it was the worst murder case he could recall in Brevard County since six people were shot dead in 1987, two of them police officers.
Police had been called to the house on several occasions in the past. The 15-year-old, a boy, was arrested last month charged with attacking his mother.
Thomas' husband, the father of all of the children, moved out of the house a few months ago, Mr Goodyear said.
Tuesday's incident was the second deadly shooting in Port St John in the past week. Six murders were committted in Brevard County in 2011.