In interviews from his hospital room, a wounded news photographer has described surviving the harrowing shooting on Wednesday that killed his fellow Florida journalist while they reported on an earlier shooting allegedly committed by the same attacker.
The photographer, Jesse Walden, said that he and his colleague Dylan Lyons had just arrived at a street in the Pine Hills neighborhood of Orlando where a local woman, Nathacha Augustin, had been murdered earlier the same day.
It was no longer an active crime scene, and Walden and Lyons believed the area was safe. While removing his camera from the trunk of a car, Walden suddenly heard gunshots and felt a bullet puncture his groin.
When he saw a man shooting toward him, Walden initially thought he’d been caught in a gang shooting. “I was assuming he was shooting at a house or something behind me, and I just happened to catch a bullet,” Walden told the news station KOB. “But he kept shooting at me.”
Walden shouted to call 911, he said in an interview with the local television news outlet WOFL, not realizing that Lyons had also been shot, and dove behind a car wheel. The gunman kept advancing on their vehicle and shot Lyons, who was sitting in the passenger seat, to death.
Neighbors eventually rushed to help, Walden said, and a photographer from another station pressed down on his wound to staunch the flow of blood. Walden is hospitalized in stable condition.
Police say that Keith Kelvin Moses, 19, killed Augustin, then returned to the area four or five hours later and shot Walden, Moses and two people in a nearby house – Brandi Major and her nine-year-old daughter, T’yonna Major. T’yonna was also killed.
Moses’s alleged motive is unclear. Police said that he was arrested in possession of a Glock 40 semiautomatic handgun and that there are no other suspects.
The grim surreality of a teenager allegedly murdering a journalist working on a report on gun violence did not escape the White House. During a briefing on Thursday, the president’s press officer, Karine Jean-Pierre, condemned the shooting and reiterated Joe Biden’s administration’s call for stronger gun laws.
“Our hearts go out to the family of Dylan Lyons,” Jean-Pierre said, and “to the families of the other two community members who were killed by the same shooter, including a nine-year-old girl with her whole life in front of her. Too many lives are being ripped apart by gun violence. The president continues to call on Congress to act on gun safety and for state officials to take action at the state level.”
“I lost one of my best friends, Dylan, yesterday,” Walden wrote on Facebook. “I’m very lucky to be alive.”