TV journalist killed while reporting on Florida shooting
A Florida reporter who was fatally shot on the job after the suspect in an earlier shooting returned to the crime scene, authorities say, has been identified as Dylan Lyons of Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.
Lyons, a 24-year-old Philadelphia native, and another Spectrum News 13 employee, photojournalist Jesse Walden, were shot around 4 p.m. Wednesday while covering the homicide of a woman in Pine Hills, just outside Orlando.
Walden was critically injured but survived, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said.
"You know Dylan was a reporter I work with every day," Walden said later in an interview from his hospital bed. "We were best friends."
More than anything, Walden said, Lyons loved being a reporter. "He really did a good job," he said.
The death of Lyons, who joined Spectrum News 13 as a multimedia journalist in July 2022, sparked an outpouring of grief from loved ones and newsroom colleagues.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives senselessly taken today,” Spectrum News 13 said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with our employee’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.”
Shooting suspect Keith Melvin Moses is being held in connection with the killings of Lyons as well as two other people, 9-year-old T'yonna Major and 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin.
“We’re not looking for anyone else,” Mina said Thursday. “He’s the guy. He’s our suspect.”
Lyons and Walden were in Pine Hills covering the fatal shooting of Augustin.
Mina said it's not clear whether Moses knew that Lyons and Walden were reporters when he approached their car and opened fire. "It's unclear why exactly they were targeted," the sheriff said.
But after shooting the reporters, Moses walked to a nearby home and shot the young girl and her mother, Mina said.
Moses knew Augustin, but it's unclear whether he knew the other shooting victims, said Mina, who did not identify the wounded mother. She remains in critical condition.
Moses, “as far as we know, had no connection to the reporters and no connection to the mother and the 9-year-old,” Mina said. “We don’t know why he entered that home.”
Lyons' loved ones in mourning
In a gut-wrenching Twitter post, Casey Lynn, a woman identifying herself as Lyons’ fiancée, wrote: “The love of my life was murdered."
“I will never be the same person ever again,” she said, sharing a GoFundMe page set up by Lyons’ family to help cover the costs of his funeral.
On his own Twitter account, Lyons had previously linked to Casey Lynn’s account with a series of heart emojis.
In the GoFundMe set up by Lyons' loved ones, the organizer, who identified herself as his older sister, Rachel Lyons, says the journalist was an "acting father to his niece and nephew who he loved so much."
"He loved his fiancée and was a devoted son to his mother and father," Rachel Lyons wrote.
"Dylan would have been 25 years old in March," she said. "He was a happy soul and wonderful person in life. My brother was our baby. He was taken too early from us."
"Born and raised in Philadelphia, Dylan’s journey to journalism was fueled by his desire to tell stories that impact local communities," Lyons' Spectrum News 13 bio says.
Lyons was a "proud University of Central Florida graduate with a degree in Journalism and Political Science," it says, adding that during his time at UCF the slain reporter anchored the UCF Knightly News, a student-run news station.
Before joining the Spectrum News 13 team, Lyons also worked as a reporter and anchor for ABC affiliate WCJB of Gainesville, the bio said. He was awarded the best “Politics/Elections Series” by the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists and was a finalist for Investigative Reporting in 2021.
Lyons is the latest reporter killed while on the job
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the fatal shooting.
“We stand in solidarity with the newsroom,” said Katherine Jacobsen, the organization's U.S. and Canada program coordinator. “It is deeply disturbing that a journalist was killed while covering the gun violence that has become a sickening reality of living in the United States. Reporters must be able to cover the news without having to fear for their lives.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists noted that Lyons death came nearly six months after another reporter, Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German, was stabbed to death outside his home on Sept. 2.
Not counting Lyons, 13 journalists and one media worker have been confirmed killed while working in the United States since the organization began keeping records in 1992.
The Reporters Committee on Freedom of the Press also condemned the shootings of the reporters.
“Every day, journalists across the country go out into the field to do the essential work of bringing important information to their communities," executive director Bruce D. Brown said. "We are sadly seeing journalism become an increasingly dangerous profession in the United States, and it should not be this way.”
Tributes for Lyons poured in following word of his death.
“Dylan Lyons was a committed journalist, and a major talent as an on-air presence. Moreover, he was part of the TV20 family," WCJB news director Jon Levy said in a statement. "He had the range to thrive as our morning show reporter, then nightside reporter, and finally as the anchor to launch our 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. newscasts. He had a big personality and was never afraid to ask the tough questions."
"Dylan was also deeply involved in TV20′s charitable and community outreach efforts during his time in North Central Florida. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and the Spectrum News 13 team," Levy said.
"If you knew Dylan, you knew he embodied journalism. Integrity. Passion. Ethics. Speed. He meant so much to so many people," Megan Turner wrote in a tweet, sharing the GoFundMe page set up by Lyons' family.
"I was his editor at UCF. He inspired me & always rooted for those around him — pray for his loved ones & colleagues," Turner wrote.
Many also shared messages of condolences with Lyons' fiancée, with Turner writing: "We're here for you" in a Twitter post.
"I’m so heartbroken for you and Dylan’s family," Alexandra Leslie, another journalist, wrote. "Reporters in Rhode Island are thinking of Dylan tonight," she said.
Photojournalist critically injured
Walden has been able to speak with investigators, police and his colleagues in the newsroom confirmed.
“He is shaken up, but in good spirits for his physical recovery,” Celeste Springer, a fellow journalist at Spectrum News 13, said in a Twitter post.
But so far Moses has not been talking, Mina said.
“Because Moses is not speaking to us, we are unable to determine a motive at this time,” the sheriff said after Moses was taken into custody.
Spectrum News 13 staffers continued reporting the story Wednesday evening even as they mourned their fallen colleague, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
“This is extremely devastating for all of us,” reporter Celeste Springer said on air. “But I am proud to have such an amazing team backing all of us. .... 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.”
This article was originally published on NBCNews.com