(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Three people, including a reporter and a 9-year-old girl, were shot and killed, and two others were shot and injured in a series of shootings in Orange County, Florida, officials said.
Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons, 24, was shot and killed, and photojournalist Jesse Walden, 29, was shot and injured, while the journalists were near their car in the Pine Hills neighborhood around 4 p.m. Wednesday, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina on Thursday commended the other “brave” journalists who he said helped render aid at the scene.
After Lyons and Walden were gunned down, 9-year-old T’yonna Major was fatally shot in her nearby home, and T’yonna’s mother was shot and survived, according to the sheriff’s office.
Lyons and Walden were shot while they were on the scene to report about another woman who was fatally shot around 11 a.m. Wednesday, Mina said. That victim has since been identified by the sheriff’s office as 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin.
Walden and T’yonna’s mother were hospitalized in critical condition, according to Mina.
A suspect, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, was arrested on Wednesday in connection to the three shooting scenes, the sheriff’s office said.
Mina said the suspect was an acquaintance of Augustin but had no apparent connection to the other four victims.
Augustin was in a car with Moses’ cousin before Moses allegedly got into the car around 11 a.m. and shot the 38-year-old, authorities said.
Moses’ cousin provided information to the authorities that would later help identify the suspected gunman, Mina said.
Moses was armed with a semi-automatic handgun when he was apprehended, Mina said at a Thursday news conference. The gun was “still hot to the touch” and had no rounds left in it, Mina said, adding that authorities believe that was the weapon used in the shootings.
Authorities don’t know how Moses allegedly obtained the weapon, Mina said.
Mina called it a “horrible day for our community” and “our media partners.”
Lyons, a Philadelphia native, graduated from from the University of Central Florida before pursuing his journalism career in Gainesville, Florida, and Orlando.
A UCF spokesperson said, “Dylan Lyons was a standout student journalist during his time at the University of Central Florida. He was a natural leader who served as both a reporter and anchor for UCF’s Nicholson Student Media program. Dylan started his professional career at WCBJ-TV20, the ABC affiliate in Gainesville, but jumped at the chance to return to Orlando and cover the community he loved.”
“He took his job very seriously,” his friend, Josh Miller, a Spectrum Sports 360 reporter, said in a statement. “He loved his career. He loved what he did.”
Lyons, who would have turned 25 next month, is survived by his parents, sister and fiancée, his sister wrote on a GoFundMe page.
“He was a happy soul and wonderful person,” she wrote. “He was taken too early from us.”
Charter Communications, the parent company of 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. This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at Thursday’s briefing, “Our hearts go out to the family of Dylan Lyons … and to the families of the other two community members who were killed by the same shooter, including a 9-year-old girl with her whole life in front of her.”
Jean-Pierre then criticized Florida Republicans for “leading an effort” to allow concealed carry guns without a permit.
“Republican state officials in Florida are currently leading an effort to pass a permitless concealed carry law, which would eliminate the need to get a license to carry a concealed weapon,” she said. “This is the opposite of common-sense gun safety, and the people of Florida — who have paid a steep price for state and congressional inactions on guns from Parkland to Pulse nightclub to Pine Hills — deserve better.”
Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings said in a statement, “We work daily with our local media organizations to accurately cover the news and it is incomprehensible that a journalist has been killed while doing his job and that a child and a young woman have been killed as well.”
Demings said the community must “do more to stop this madness.”
Other law enforcement agencies in Florida have also spoken out.
Moses is being held in the Orange County Jail on one charge of first-degree murder in connection to the slaying of Nathacha Augustin, the sheriff said. Additional charges will be filed for the homicides of Dylan Lyons and T’yonna Major, he said.
ABC News’ Alex Faul and Justin Gomez contributed to this report.
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