Former Salt Lake photojournalist among those shot in Orlando

Feb 23, 2023, 3:31 PM | Updated: 4:28 pm
Orange County Sheriff John Mina addresses the media during a press conference about multiple shooti...
Orange County Sheriff John Mina addresses the media during a press conference about multiple shootings, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. A central Florida television journalist and a little girl were fatally shot Wednesday afternoon near the scene of a fatal shooting from earlier in the day, authorities said. Mina said that they’ve detained Keith Melvin Moses, 19, who they believe is responsible for both shootings in the Orlando-area neighborhood. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
(Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

(CNN) — As a Florida TV reporter who was shot and killed was identified, it was also learned that the station’s photographer, Jesse Walden, who left Salt Lake City to work in Orlando, was “critically injured.” Walden was well known to Utah journalists, working for KSTU previously.

A gunman in central Florida killed a woman Wednesday, returned to the scene and killed a TV journalist covering that death, and then fatally shot a 9-year-old girl nearby before he was arrested, authorities said.

Spectrum News 13 in Orlando identified the slain reporter as 24-year-old Dylan Lyons.

Walden, was “critically injured” in the shooting, the station said. He was in stable condition Thursday, according to Orlando Health Orlando Regional Medical Center. He was from New Mexico before working in Utah.

Authorities Thursday identified the girl and the woman who were killed in the deadly rampage that spanned three locations as T’yonna Major and 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin.

The suspect, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, has been taken into custody, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said. His arrest ended a spate of violence that stretched several hours in a neighborhood just west of Orlando.

“No one in our community — not a mother, not a 9-year-old, (and) certainly not news professionals — should become the victim of gun violence in our community,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.

In addition to the three killings, the suspect is also accused of injuring the girl’s mother. Investigators are trying to determine the motive behind the attacks.

“We really don’t know what was in the mind of this suspect,” Mina said. “Hopefully at some point that he’ll talk to us about what his motives were.”

How the deadly rampage unfolded

The first shooting was reported around 11 a.m. Wednesday. A woman was killed inside a vehicle on Hialeah Street in Orange County. That woman is believed to be an acquaintance of the suspect, Mina said. Authorities originally described her as being in her 20s.

Moses was in the car after he was picked up by a cousin who offered him a ride late Wednesday night, according to an affidavit. Moses was in the car about 30 seconds before the shooting, the affidavit said.

Detectives spoke to the cousin, who witnessed the first shooting incident and is not named in the affidavit.

The cousin told investigators he was driving and picked up a female friend from her residence, according to the affidavit. He told police they drove around “smoking cannabis for about 30 minutes when he saw Keith” walking on the road.

The cousin told detectives that “Keith ‘seemed down’ and offered him a ‘ride,'” according to the affidavit. The suspect entered the rear passenger side and sat behind the woman. Less than a minute later, the cousin said he “heard a loud bang,” the affidavit said.

The cousin said he saw blood on the woman’s face and pulled over. He called 911 and “Keith (Moses) left the scene running,” according to the affidavit.

Later in the day, after that vehicle had been towed, the gunman returned to the area and shot two Spectrum News 13 journalists who were covering the woman’s killing, Mina said.

The suspect then entered a home on a nearby street and shot a mother and her 9-year-old daughter, the sheriff said. Both were taken to a hospital, where the child died and the mother was in critical condition Wednesday evening, authorities said.

“We don’t know why he entered that home,” the sheriff said.

Investigators also are looking into whether the suspect knew that the Spectrum News 13 employees were journalists.

Authorities said they believe Moses had no connection to the journalists nor the mother and her daughter.

Investigators quickly identified Moses as a suspect in the first shooting and were following leads when the TV journalists were shot around 4 p.m., the sheriff said.

The two journalists were shot in or around their vehicle, Mina said.

“That vehicle was almost exactly in the same spot as the vehicle was from the homicide this morning,” Mina said. “It’s unclear why exactly they were targeted.”

The journalists’ vehicle “didn’t look like a typical news vehicle with a lot of markings on it,” Mina said.

Investigators recovered a Glock .40 caliber pistol used in the shooting spree and have obtained video evidence of the suspect at the time of the shooting, according to Mina.

“We’re still trying to track down how he obtained the firearm,” Mina said.

The suspect was “uncooperative” when confronted by deputies and later fought with hospital staff and had to be restrained, Mina said.

Mina said Moses “is a known gang member” but the shootings are “not gang related.”

‘Every reporter’s absolutely worst nightmare’

Spectrum News 13, a CNN affiliate, posted a tribute on its website titled “Remembering Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons.”

“He took his job very seriously. He loved his career. He loved what he did,” fellow reporter Josh Miller said in the tribute. “He loved the community, telling the stories of people, reporting on the news, and he was just passionate about what he did.”

Lyons, who was born and raised in Philadelphia, moved south when he enrolled at the University of Central Florida and, according to Miller, came to love Orlando.

Miller said Lyons was close to his mother, whom he would thank on social media at different points in his career.

“The amount of people that will miss him, I’m sure, I can’t even come to fathom how many,” Miller told the station.

Spectrum News 13 thanked employees of competing news outlets for rushing to their colleagues’ aid.

“Some of our competitors … rushed to the aid of our colleagues, and we want them to know how much we appreciate them,” anchor Tammie Fields said. “Because when danger was happening, they could have run the other way. But apparently they ran right over to our crews and helped.”

Luana Munoz, a reporter for CNN affiliate WESH, described an emotional scene after her fellow journalist died. Her colleagues had left the crime scene on Hialeah Street moments before the shooting, according to the station.

“This is every reporter’s absolutely worst nightmare. We go home at night afraid that something like this will occur and that is what happened here,” Munoz said. “We have learned that a fellow reporter has died while covering a shooting.”

“There are members of his family here, along with his fiancée, who are incredibly distraught tonight,” Munoz said. “There are other media people who are corralled together and standing in solidarity tonight as one of our own has passed.”

Spectrum News 13’s parent company, Charter Communications, released a statement following the attack.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives senselessly taken today,” the statement reads. “Our thoughts are with our employee’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time. We remain hopeful that our other colleague who was injured makes a full recovery. This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”

In a statement, CNN called the shooting “an absolute tragedy” and noted that the organization “stands with our affiliate partner, Spectrum News 13, and will support them and the families of these journalists in any way we can.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released a statement, saying, “Our hearts go out to the family of the journalist killed today and the crew member injured in Orange County, Florida, as well as the whole Spectrum News team.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Former Salt Lake photojournalist among those shot in Orlando