A Florida television station identified Thursday a 24-year-old reporter who was fatally shot while covering a shooting death in an Orlando area neighborhood, as well as its photojournalist who was critically injured in the rampage.
Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons and photojournalist Jesse Walden were in their unmarked news vehicle on Wednesday afternoon when a man approached and shot them, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said in a news conference. The man then went to a nearby home where he fatally shot a 9-year-old girl and critically injured her mother.
The sheriff said they’ve detained Keith Melvin Moses, 19, who they believe is responsible for both shootings.
“I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and our media partners,” Mina told a room full of reporters. “I work closely with all of you and know many of you and know the very difficult job that you do and also the very important job that you do for our community and for law enforcement. 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.”
Mina said they don’t immediately have a motive for any of the shootings.
“So, the suspect is not saying much right now,” Mina said. “It is unclear if he knew they were news media or not. We’re still trying to work all that out.”
Mina said the News 13 vehicle did not look like a typical news van with TV station markings.
Deputies had initially responded to the Pine Hills area, just northwest of Orlando, on Wednesday morning following reports of a woman in her 20s being shot.
Moses “was an acquaintance of the woman this morning, but as far as we know, had no connection to the reporters and no connection to the mother and the 9-year-old,” Mina said.
According to witnesses, a man approached the news vehicle later Wednesday and opened fire, hitting the two reporters. The man then walked to a nearby home and shot the mother and daughter.
WFTV crews, who were also reporting on the morning shooting, tried to give medical aid to the Spectrum 13 journalists.
Mina said Moses is already facing a murder charge for the initial victim, and charges are expected soon for the other four victims. Moses’ criminal history includes gun charges, as well as aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and grand theft offenses, the sheriff said.
“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,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Twitter.
“Please, please, say a prayer tonight for our co-worker who is in critical condition. And while you’re at it, please say a prayer for every victim of gun violence in this country,” Spectrum 13 journalist Celeste Springer said during her live on-air report Wednesday evening.
In a story published early Thursday, the station identified Lyons and Walden.
“(Lyons) took his job very seriously. He loved his career. He loved what he did,” said Spectrum Sports 360 reporter and friend, Josh Miller. “He loved the community, telling the stories of people, reporting on the news, and he was just passionate about what he did.”
Lyons was born and raised in Philadelphia, and graduated from the University of Central Florida, the station said. Before joining Spectrum News, he worked for a station in Gainesville.
Rachel Lyons, the reporter’s older sister, is raising money for his funeral in a GoFundMe account. She wrote that Lyons would have turned 25 in March. He is also survived by his parents and fiancée.
In a tweet sent Thursday morning, Mina said “no one in our community, not a 9 year old child or a media professional should become of victim of gun violence.”
Worldwide 40 journalists were reported killed last year, plus another two this year before Wednesday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Only one of those was in the United States.
Jeff German, who covered politics and corruption for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead outside of his home in September after being stabbed multiple times. Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who had been a frequent subject of German’s reporting, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.
In 2015, Virginia reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed during their live TV broadcast for CBS affiliate WDBJ7. The suspect, a former reporter for the TV station, died by suicide during the law enforcement search for him.