Florida shootings: TV journalist covering murder and girl, 9, shot dead near Orlando
A TV journalist covering a murder has been shot dead along with a nine-year-old girl near Orlando in Florida.
The gunman also opened fire on a photographer and the girl’s mother, wounding them both.
The suspect, identified by police as Keith Melvin Moses, 19, was arrested shortly after the attacks, which took place on Wednesday about a block away from each other in the Orlando suburb of Pine Hills, said Orange County Sheriff John Mina.
Moses was also formally charged in the killing hours earlier of a woman in her 20s, a shooting that the two journalists were covering when they came under fire, Mr Mina said.
Spectrum News 13 identified the reporter killed on Thursday as Dylan Lyons. The photographer wounded in the shooting was named as Jesse Walden.
The two were in an unmarked news vehicle on Wednesday afternoon covering the first homicide when a man approached and shot them, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said during a news conference.
The man then went to a nearby home where he fatally shot T’yonna Major and critically wounded her mother. Officials have not yet released the name of the girl’s mother.
Mr Mina said the suspect was armed with a pistol when he was taken into custody.
He said no motive had been determined for any of the shootings. But he said Moses was believed to have been an acquaintance of the first victim, who was shot while sitting in a car with the suspected gunman and another person.
The sheriff said he did not know whether the news team was targeted because the men were journalists. They were in or near their vehicle when shot around 4pm (10pm GMT).
“As far as we know, he had no connection to the reporters and no connection to the mother or the 9-year old, and we don’t know why he entered their home,” the sheriff said.
He said both the mother and the surviving journalist were in hospital in critical condition.
“This is another tragic reminder that journalism is a dangerous business and that criminals and those that are the subject of reporting can become violent toward reporters who are doing their jobs,” said the National Press Club.
The organisation urged all reporters in the field to take extra precautions and redouble efforts to work safely.
Spectrum 13 journalist Celeste Springer said during her live on-air report Wednesday evening: “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.”
In a story published early on Thursday, Spectrum Sports 360 reporter and friend of Mr Lyons, Josh Miller, said: “[Mr Lyons] took his job very seriously. He loved his career. He loved what he did.
“He loved the community, telling the stories of people, reporting on the news, and he was just passionate about what he did.”
Rachel Lyons, the reporter’s older sister, is raising money for his funeral in a GoFundMe account. She wrote that Mr Lyons would have turned 25 in March. He is also survived by his parents and fiancée.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre posted a message of condolence on Twitter.
“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 said.