A Florida journalist who was fatally shot on the job Wednesday after the suspect of an earlier shooting returned to the scene of the crime has been identified as Dylan Lyons, a reporter with Spectrum News 13.
“Following the shooting death of one of our colleagues and the wounding of another, Spectrum News 13 has now identified the reporter who lost his life as Dylan Lyons,” the outlet, based in Orlando, said Thursday morning.
Lyons was 24, according to a GoFundMe page set up by his family. He had joined Spectrum News 13 as a multimedia journalist in July 2022, according to a bio on the news outlet’s website.
The slain reporter had been in Pine Hills, just outside Orlando, with a news crew at around 4 p.m. to cover the slaying of a woman who had been found shot earlier that morning, Sheriff John Mina said on Wednesday.
Mina identified that woman as Nathacha Augustin, 38, Thursday morning.
Keith Melvin Moses, 19, the suspect in the woman’s killing, returned to the scene and opened fire on Lyons and a photojournalist, who Spectrum News 13 identified as Jesse Walden, while the two were in or near a vehicle, Mina said. The sheriff said one of the victims had died, but he did not identify Lyons at the time.
In an earlier statement Wednesday, Spectrum News called the violence a tragedy.
“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,” it said.
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 identifies 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.
The journalist 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, Lyons had reported and anchored for the UCF Knightly News, a student-run news station.
Before joining the Spectrum News 13 team, Lyons had reported and anchored for ABC affiliate WCJB of Gainesville, the bio said, adding that 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 in the U.S. while on the job
The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the fatal shooting of Lyons.
“We are appalled by the killing of a Spectrum 13 journalist in Orange County, Florida, and 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, 2022.
In total, 13 journalists and one media worker have been confirmed killed while working in the United States since the organization began keeping records in 1992.
Tributes for Lyons have poured in in the wake 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 TV20 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.
“Absolutely horrible. My heart goes out to @MyNews13, friends and family of journalist Dylan Lyons, and the family and friends of the 9-year-old little girl,” Chandler Watkins 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, the photojournalist, was still in critical condition as of Wednesday night. Greg Angel, a news anchor for Spectrum News 13, said in a Twitter post that evening that the “second colleague injured in the shooting” had been “able to speak with investigators and colleagues” while receiving treatment.
“Great sign. But lots of procedures and healing to come,” he said. Walden’s condition was not immediately clear as of Thursday morning.
The suspect was arrested in the area and was charged in the initial slaying, Mina said. He said Moses would be charged in the four other shootings later.
Mina said it was unclear whether Moses knew if Lyons and Walden “were news media or not.”
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.”
Augustin, who had been killed earlier, was an acquaintance of the suspect, the sheriff said.
The initial slaying had taken place inside a vehicle, Mina said, and detectives had identified Moses as a suspect and were following leads when the other shootings happened.
It was not immediately clear whether Moses had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
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 story first appeared on NBCNews.com.