Murder & Suicide Shocks Neighbors In Gulfport - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

03/07/04

Murder & Suicide Shocks Neighbors In Gulfport

An Orange Grove mother and father are dead, killed in a murder suicide early Sunday afternoon.

Harrison county coroner Gary Hargrove said 34-year-old Shelley Johnson was shot in her driveway by 43-year-old John Thomas Sr, also of Gulfport. Hargrove said Thomas then went back into Johnson's house and shot himself.

Gulfport police are investigating the circumstances of what they call a domestic related issue. Family, friends and neighbors tell us they can't believe what happened.

"I don't know what's going on and I pull up to the store and see guns everywhere. I go up to the officer and I say I want my kids out of the house, I want them out now," neighbor Jennifer Gooch said.

Gooch lives on Cleve street across from Shelley Johnson. Returning from the grocery store she saw armored police with automatic weapons and shot guns, fire trucks, ambulances, EMT's, a stretcher, the coroner, reporters, neighbors with police officers.

"At 12:15 Gulfport police received a call for a man with a gun on Cleve Street, at 12:17 officers responded," Gulfport Police Officer Pat Young said.

After making sure her children were okay, Gooch found out that her friend and neighbor, Shelley Johnson was dead.

"I don't understand it at all. I just got through talking to her right before I left and now here she is. I wasn't even gone 15 minutes," Gooch said.

"I heard no arguments, no nothing, just two gunshots," Eddie Drago said.

Drago works part time as a landscaper in the yard behind the Johnson house.

"Within a matter of minutes you must have had four of five police cars here right on the scene in a hurry. I noticed a swat team came in about ten or fifteen minutes later after our police cars showed up," Drago said.

Family and friends arrived at the scene and were comforted by Gulfport Police Chief Steve Barnes.

"That's my neighbor and she had a little girl that had to watch all that. She's a good mom. She's a nice quiet person. She didn't bother anybody," Gooch said.

"You know it's a shame that the world has changed so much that people have to worry about guns and all the corruption that goes on," Drago said.

Hargrove said the daughter of the deceased is in the custody of grand parents Sunday night. She was in the house during the shooting.

A post mortem examination is to be conducted and the investigation is continuing.

 By: Nathan Mihelich

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