Police arrested a 19-year-old suspect on Wednesday linked to a spate of fatal shootings that left a TV reporter and young child dead near the crime scene where a woman who was fatally shot earlier that day in Orlando, Florida.
Orange County Sheriff John Mina told reporters on Wednesday evening that a Spectrum News 13 reporter and a 9-year-old girl were among five people who were shot in separate shootings, allegedly by the same suspect.
A Spectrum News 13 photographer and the mother of the 9-year-old girl were also shot on Wednesday afternoon. A woman in her 20s had been fatally shot on Wednesday morning.
Dylan Lyons, 24, was identified by his sister Rachel Lyons, as the slain journalist, in a GoFundMe fundraiser she started to assist in his funeral costs. Rachel Lyons said her brother was “an acting father” to his niece and nephew, a devoted son, and that he loved his fiance, Casey Lynn.
“He was a happy soul and wonderful person in life. My brother was our baby. He was taken too early from us,” Rachel Lyons wrote.
The suspect, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, has been taken into custody.
Mina said the Spectrum News 13 crew were at the scene reporting on the fatal shooting of the woman that had occurred near the scene earlier that day.
ALERT: Multiple people shot on Hialeah Street, same scene as a homicide earlier today. One person has been detained. We will update as soon as possible. @SheriffMina will brief at a time and location TBD. pic.twitter.com/7exNZy8nDF
— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) February 22, 2023
Orange County deputies discovered the woman’s body in the 6100 block of Hialeah Street in Pine Hills after responding to 911 calls about the shooting at around 11 a.m., according to Mina.
Detectives investigated the woman’s shooting and “created good leads” about the suspect, Mina said.
Later that day, just after 4 p.m., authorities began receiving 911 calls about a second shooting at the same location and at another nearby location involving the Spectrum News 13 crew and the mother and her daughter.
“At Hialeah Street, deputies discovered two men who had been shot at or near a vehicle. They are a News 13 reporter and photographer who were on the scene to cover the homicide from this morning,” Mina said.
“On Harrington Street, a woman and her 9-year-old girl were also shot inside of a home,” he continued.
Mina said it was “unclear” why the suspect had entered the residence.
The victims were transported to an area hospital. The mother and the second unnamed Spectrum News 13 crew member remain in critical condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
Charter Communication, the parent company of Spectrum News 13, released a statement about the shooting.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives senselessly taken today. 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 statement reads. “This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to the shooting with a statement.
“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,” she wrote on Twitter. “Our hearts are also with the other shooting victims today, their families, and the entire community. Too many lives are being ripped apart by gun violence.”
Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) said the incident was “absolutely horrible” and that his team is “closely monitoring the situation and keeping these Floridians and their families in our prayers.”
The suspect has a “lengthy criminal history” of gun-related charges, as well as aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and grant theft charges, according to Mina.
Mina acknowledged the impact the incident may have on members of the local community, including the local media.
“I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and our media partners,” Minsa said. “I work closely with all of you and know many of you.”
This is 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, the suspect in a series of shootings today that left three dead, in OCSO custody. This is a sad day for our community. Three were murdered today, including a woman in her 20s, a 9-year-old girl and a @MyNews13 employee. pic.twitter.com/DXXkxzRHl5
— Orange County Sheriff's Office (@OrangeCoSheriff) February 23, 2023
Taking questions from reporters, Mina said the suspect had not been saying much as yet to investigators, and it was unclear if he had targeted the news crew specifically.
“That vehicle [belonging to the news crew] was almost exactly in the same spot as the vehicle was from the homicide this morning. So it’s unclear exactly why they were targeted,” Mina said.
The vehicle used by the Spectrum News 13 crew didn’t “look like a typical” media vehicle “with markings on it,” Mina noted.
“It’s possible that he could have mistaken them for law enforcement. I just don’t know at this time,” he added.
Mina said that while police hadn’t seen targeted violence against media “in this area,” authorities would look at the bigger picture of incidents of violence against journalists.
The suspect’s motives remain unclear.