‘Very lucky to be alive:’ Spectrum News 13 photographer hurt in Pine Hills shootings speaks on recovery

Jesse Walden remembers Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons, 24, in Facebook post

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Spectrum News 13 photographer badly hurt after a string of shootings in Pine Hills that killed three people, including his colleague, posted on social media Thursday he was “very lucky to be alive.”

Jesse Walden, 29, was critically injured and 24-year-old Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons died in a shooting while covering a homicide in Pine Hills that occurred earlier that day.

[RELATED: Dylan Lyons identified as Orlando TV reporter shot to death in Pine Hills | ‘He lit up a room:’ Dylan Lyons, slain Orlando TV reporter, remembered as energetic, dedicated]

A 9-year-old girl, identified as T’yonna Major and a 38-year-old, identified as Nathacha Augustin, also died and the girl’s mother was critically injured in the string of shootings on Wednesday.

“I lost one of my best friends, Dylan yesterday,” Walden said in a Facebook post on Thursday. “I was shot and now I’ve had surgery and I am OK thank you all so much for your well wishes. I haven’t had my phone till now, so I’m sorry I haven’t been able to respond to most of you. I’m very lucky to be alive.”

The two news team members were in the Pine Hills neighborhood covering the fatal shooting of Augustin, who was found around 11:20 a.m. in the 6100 block of Hialeah Street, deputies said.

Orange County Sheriff John Mina said 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses was arrested in connection with the shooting and added that the suspect and Augustin knew each other.

[RELATED: Timeline: What we know about shooting deaths of a News 13 journalist, 2 others in Pine Hills | 3 killed, including News 13 journalist, child, in Pine Hills shootings, sheriff says]

The sheriff said Moses then returned to the scene of the homicide later that day, when Lyons and Walden were working in a News 13 vehicle that did not look like a typical news van with TV station markings.

The suspect opened fire, hitting the two journalists, before going up Harrington Street and entering a house, where he then shot a woman, who has yet to be identified, and her daughter, T’yonna. Orange County Public Schools have since identified her as a Pine Hills Elementary School student who the principal described in a message to families as “a kind and beautiful young girl with an infectious smile (who) will be missed dearly.”

A motive for the shootings is not known at this time.

The sheriff said during a news briefing Wednesday it is not known at this time why the news crew was targeted or if the suspect was aware they were media members.

“I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and our media partners. I’ve worked closely with all of you and know many of you and know the very difficult job that you do and also the very important job that you do for our community and for law enforcement,” Mina said at a news briefing Wednesday. “No one in our community — not a mother, not a 9-year-old, certainly not news professionals — should become the victim of gun violence in our community.”

In social media updates issued by the Spectrum News 13 team, Walden’s colleagues, News 13 reporters Molly Duerig and Celeste Springer, said he is “doing as well as he can be post-surgery” and “is shaken up, but in good spirits for his physical recovery.”

Spectrum News 13 anchor Greg Angel expressed the heartbreak the team felt over Lyons’ and a message for Walden to keep fighting.

Spectrum News 13 issued the following message after the tragedy.

In response to the shootings, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and other community leaders held a news briefing Thursday focused on reinforcing a citizens safety task force.

Moses has a lengthy criminal history and has previously faced charges of aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and grand theft.

He is already facing charges for the death of Augustin, and will also face charges for the deaths of Lyons and T’yonna.

Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily: