It remains unclear why a gunman fatally shot a woman in a Florida neighborhood, then returned to the area hours later, killing a local television journalist covering the homicide and a 9-year-old girl, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said Thursday.
Two others were injured in the second shooting—a cameraman who was being treated at a local hospital, and the mother of the 9-year-old, who was “fighting for her life” in critical condition, Mina said.
The journalists, both men, were a reporter and photographer with Spectrum News 13 out of Orlando. News 13 identified the slain reporter as Dylan Lyons, a 24-year-old Philadelphia native who “loved his career” and was engaged to be married. The 9-year-old victim was identified as T’yonna Major, and the victim of the initial homicide was identified as 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin. Lyons was “a happy soul and wonderful person in life,” his sister wrote in a GoFundMe.
The second journalist hit, Jesse Walden, was stable by Thursday morning and has spoken with detectives, Mina said.
A 19-year-old man, Keith Melvin Moses, was detained in connection to the shooting spree. “He has a lengthy criminal history,” Mina said, which includes “gun charges, aggravated battery, and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and grand theft charges.”
Mina said Thursday that Moses is a known gang member, but his motive is unknown because he refuses to speak to detectives.
On Wednesday night, Moses had been charged with just one murder—that of the victim from the earlier homicide around 11 a.m. Mina said Thursday that Moses now faces three counts of murder and other charges.
An arrest affidavit for Moses’ first alleged killing, obtained by The Daily Beast, detailed a seemingly random attack that left his friend in shock.
The document said Moses’ friend, who was not named, was driving around Orlando’s Pine Hills neighborhood with Augustin for about 30 minutes as they smoked weed. The driver then spotted Moses walking and noticed he seemed “down,” so he offered him a ride, the affidavit said.
Cops say Moses accepted his friend’s offer and hopped in the car’s back seat. Less than 30 seconds later, however, a loud “bang” rang out and the driver told detectives he turned to see blood spilling from Augustin’s face. The driver stopped the car and called 911, while Moses took off running.
Augustin was dead by the time first responders made it to the scene—her body lying face down on the street with a bullet wound on the left side of her chin, the affidavit said. The friend told cops no argument preceded the gunfire and that Augustin and Moses did not know each other.
Hours later, while covering the morning’s initial shooting, two journalists were shot in their vehicle, Mina said. The sheriff said Moses then moved to a house about a block away, where he shot the mother and daughter inside. Why he entered the home was not immediately clear, and neither was his connection to the victims, if any, according to Mina.
The sheriff said a handgun in Moses’ pants was still “hot to the touch” and out of bullets when he was detained, which was moments after he shot the mother and daughter. Bodycam footage from cops’ takedown of Moses will be released Thursday afternoon, Mina said.
“It’s hard to know if he was targeting this news crew,” he said. “Again, that’ll all be part of our investigation.”
In a since-deleted tweet, WFTV reporter Nick Papantonis described how the gunman “walked by our crew who was working in their car. Our crew ducked.” He continued: “The man then walked up to the other crew working in their car and opened fire.”
Members of WFTV’s crew rendered aid to at least one of the victims before emergency personnel arrived on the scene, according to Sabrina Maggiore, another journalist with the channel.
“I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and media partners,” Mina said.
“I work closely with all of you and know many of you and know the very difficult job that you do…” he continued. “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 communities.”
As the evening went on, News 13 journalists grieved the loss of their colleague even as they continued to report on the shooting.
“Life is fragile,” anchor Greg Angel tweeted. “We were just talking to our colleagues—friends—this afternoon. Life was normal.”
“And now, life is not normal.”
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressed condolences in an evening tweet, writing, “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.”
Mina said a vigil is scheduled to be held for all three victims on Thursday night.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives senselessly taken today,” Spectrum News said in a statement. “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.”
The Daily Beast