Viewing held for 9-year-old victim of Pine Hills slayings

T’Yonna Major’s funeral to be held Saturday

The parents of T'yonna Major, 9, remember her as a girl who showed so much love to others. (Brandi and Tokiyo Major)

PINE HILLS, Fla. – Final goodbyes begin Friday for 9-year-old T’Yonna Major, the youngest victim of a deadly shooting spree last month in Pine Hills that took three lives and inflamed a war of words between the region’s state attorney and Florida’s governor.

Major’s viewing takes place in the afternoon at the New Life Church on North Powers Drive in Pine Hills.

Saturday, her funeral will be held.

Keith Moses, 19, was arrested Feb. 22 after shooting Majors and four others in the Pine Hills area, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.

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Dylan Lyons, 24, was also killed in the shootings, along with 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin. Lyons was laid to rest over the weekend.

On the job as a TV reporter for Spectrum News 13, Lyons and Spectrum photographer Jesse Walden were both shot after arriving to the scene of Augustin’s killing, which had happened at 11:20 a.m. that day, deputies said. Moses returned to the scene around 4 p.m., killing Lyons and leaving Walden critically injured, before entering a nearby home where he shot Major and her mother, according to the sheriff’s office.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis made his first public statements about the shootings early the following week, criticizing Orange-Osceola State Attorney Monique Worrell before a crowd in Reedy Creek.

“You have a small element of people, that the way to protect the community is to get them off the street,” DeSantis said. “...I know the district attorney, state attorney in Orlando, thinks that you don’t prosecute people and that’s the way that you somehow have better communities. That does not work.”

The governor’s office followed up by sending a letter to Worrell demanding Moses’ criminal and juvenile records.

The state attorney said Thursday that she had since provided those documents, refraining from compliance with one request for “Information on the number and circumstances of individuals who (1) were arrested for committing a felony or had violated the terms of their probation by being arrested for a crime, (2) had a prior criminal history, and (3) were not prosecuted by your office” due to an unrealistic deadline, adding she could instead provide details on any specific cases that DeSantis wanted to know more about.

Moses’ previous arrests date back to 2018, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, though he only faced charges once as an adult prior to the Pine Hills shootings when he was caught in 2021 with fewer than 5 grams of marijuana and faced a misdemeanor.

Worrell has urged the Legislature to pass HB 1273, a bill that would give Florida courts more jurisdiction over juvenile offenders, saying that the courts and state attorney’s office are currently given no say in which program a juvenile offender is sent to or how long they’re kept there.

“Currently for our max risk programs, you’re looking at a term of 18 to 36 months in a max risk program,” Worrell said. “That is the worst possible punishment in our juvenile system. But that doesn’t match individuals who are involved in gun violence.”

Likening DeSantis’ interest in her to the governor’s suspension of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren last year, Worrell is now defending her office from what she calls “political fearmongering” and an effort to build a case against her.

“This isn’t about whether or not my policies are a danger to public safety. This is about the governor wanting to control the politics across this state and quite frankly it’s dangerous because this is a democracy, not a dictatorship,” Worrell said.

Gary Lyons, Dylan Lyons’ father, spoke about his son’s death for the first time at a news conference earlier this month. There with Major’s family and Attorney Mark Nejame, who represents both families, he said that neither Sen. Rick Scott, R-Florida, nor DeSantis had reached out to him before issuing public statements attacking Worrell in what Nejame called a “coordinated effort to paint a false narrative.”

“How our governor and senator could not even reach out, (DeSantis) was there at Disney, taking back the Disney district, but he couldn’t call for 30 seconds?” Gary Lyons said. “...As parents themselves, I was shocked they couldn’t take 30 seconds out of their time to just call and say ‘I’m sorry about the death of your child.’”

At a news conference Thursday, Worrell accused Orange County Sheriff John Mina and Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez of working with DeSantis to build such a case. In a statement provided to News 6, a spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office denied Worrell’s claim, calling it “categorically false.”

Moses currently faces the following charges, to be filed by end-of-day Friday, in what Worrell said were meant as holding charges to keep the 19-year-old detained as further first-degree murder charges go before a grand jury:

  • Second-degree murder
  • Attempted first-degree murder
  • Burglary of a dwelling with a firearm
  • Shooting within a vehicle, shooting within a dwelling, shooting into a vehicle and shooting into a dwelling
  • Possession of a firearm by an adjudicated delinquent
  • Carrying a concealed firearm
  • Resisting an officer without violence
  • Trespass in a structure

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About the Author:

Brandon, a UCF grad, joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021. Before joining News 6, Brandon worked at WDBO.