A Florida journalist and a 9-year-old girl were gunned down Wednesday afternoon by a suspect wanted in an earlier fatal shooting at the same scene, authorities said.
Two others were also wounded, including a second Spectrum News 13 journalist, in the 4 p.m. gunfire on Hialeah Street in Pine Hills, according to Orange County Sheriff John Mina.
The unthinkable horror began around 11 a.m. when the suspected gunman, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, allegedly shot and killed a 20-year-old woman sitting in a car on the street, Mina said.
Moses allegedly returned to the scene five hours later and fired rounds at a Spectrum News 13 crew who were there reporting on the initial homicide.
Both a News 13 reporter and photographer who were in and near their news van were shot. The 24-year-old reporter, identified by family early Thursday as Dylan Lyons, died. The photographer was hospitalized in critical condition, Mina said.
Shortly after, Moses allegedly stormed into a house on Hialeah Street, where he shot a 9-year-old girl and her mother. The child died of her injuries in the hospital, while her mother is fighting for her life, the sheriff said.
Officers arrested Moses following the later shootings and confirmed he was also a suspect in the slaughter of the 20-year-old woman. He was charged with one count of murder for the morning killing and is expected to face further charges for the second and third shootings, Mina said.
He was armed with a handgun — which officers believe is the murder weapon — when apprehended by police.
“At 19, he had a lengthy criminal history to [sic] include gun charges, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and grand theft charges,” Mina said of the suspect.
Mina said the first victim was believed to be an acquaintance of Moses, but there is as yet no known connection between the suspect and his later targets. Deputies are investigating a motive.
The sheriff also said it’s unclear if Moses specifically targeted the News 13 team because they were journalists.
“The suspect is not saying much right now,” Mina said. “It is unclear if he knew they were news media or not.”
He added that the team’s van was not clearly distinguishable as a news van, but said that the photographer’s equipment was visible.
“No one in our community — not a mother, not a 9-year-old, certainly not news professionals — should become the victim of gun violence,” Mina said.
Homicide detectives and other law enforcement officers had cleared the scene of the initial morning murder by the time of the afternoon shootings, he added.
“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,” Spectrum’s parent company Charter Communications said in a statement Wednesday night. “This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”
Spectrum reporter Celeste Springer grew emotional in a live broadcast from the hospital, where her colleague remains in critical condition.
“This is extremely devastating for all of us, but I’m proud to have such an amazing team backing all of us,” Springer said on air. “We really are such an incredible family here tonight and of course, we’re all praying for our news member who’s in the hospital right now.”
“A couple hours ago before we learned that our news member had passed away, we all sat in a circle here and said a quick prayer and all I can ask for anyone watching at home right now is 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,” she said, tearing up.
Another News 13 co-worker announced the critically injured journalist was improving later that night.
“In one good news update — our other co-worker who was critically injured in this shooting is alert and speaking to investigators and the medical team,” Spectrum News hurricane specialist Zach Covey said. “We are hopeful for a full and swift recovery.”