Dylan Lyons, a 24-year-old TV journalist, was killed while reporting on a shooting
Colleagues and loved ones are mourning the loss of Dylan Lyons, a television journalist who was shot while covering an earlier shooting in Orlando, Fla.
Spectrum News 13 is remembering the 24-year-old as "a motivated and talented professional who was living his dream in Orlando" and "will not be forgotten."
The Philadelphia native had lived in Florida since college and started at the station as a multimedia journalist in July 2022, according to his biography. It says his journey to the profession "was fueled by his desire to tell stories that impact local communities."
Lyons was part of a news crew reporting from the Pine Hills neighborhood on the fatal shooting of a woman in her 20s that had happened earlier on Wednesday. The day ended with two others dead and two critically injured.
Orange County authorities said the suspect in the first killing returned to the scene and opened fire, hitting two reporters, who Spectrum News 13 has since identified as Lyons and photojournalist Jesse Walden. He then walked to a nearby home and shot a woman and her 9-year-old daughter, who also died.
Police announced later Wednesday that they had detained that suspect, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, who they say was an acquaintance of the first victim but does not appear to have connections to the others. Authorities have yet to determine a motive and say it's not clear whether he knew Lyons and Walden were members of the media because their vehicle was not clearly marked as a typical news van.
The tragedy has sent shock waves across and beyond the Orlando community, with condolences pouring in from local law enforcement officials, state politicians and the White House even before Lyons' identity was released.
Now Lyons' loved ones are sharing more personal tributes, emphasizing how much he loved his job, his community and his family — which has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses.
The organizer, who identifies herself as Lyons' older sister Rachel, describes him as a loving fiancé, devoted son and acting father to his niece and nephew.
"Dylan would have been 25 years old in March," she wrote. "He was a happy soul and wonderful person in life. My brother was our baby. He was taken too early from us."
Remembering an enthusiastic and ambitious reporter
Lyons moved south to attend the University of Central Florida, where he studied journalism and political science while reporting and anchoring for the student-run news station.
His first job was working as a reporter and anchor for WCJB TV20, an ABC affiliate in Gainesville. Lyons was awarded the best "Politics/Elections Series" by the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists in 2020 and was a finalist for investigative reporting the following year.
Lyons' station biography says one of the most impactful stories he covered was about the murder of a 13-year-old girl.
"The story was especially moving for Dylan because it illustrated the importance of ensuring proper protections for the most vulnerable in our society," it reads.
His friend Josh Miller, a Spectrum Sports 360 reporter, told the outlet that Lyons loved his career and took it very seriously. Even outside of work he was often "talking about how much he wanted to succeed at his job, talking about how much he loved Orlando."
"He loved the community, telling the stories of people, reporting on the news, and he was just passionate about what he did," Miller said.
Megan Turner, who said she was one of Lyons' editors in college, said he inspired her and always rooted for those around him. She called him a "hero" and shared old videos and articles of his on Twitter on Wednesday.
"If you knew Dylan, you knew he embodied journalism," she wrote. "Integrity. Passion. Ethics. Speed. He meant so much to so many people."
Lyons also loved his partner and his family, with Miller telling Spectrum News 13 that he was close with his mom and would express his gratitude for her publicly in posts on social media.
"The love of my life was murdered," she wrote. "I will never be the same person ever again."
The tragedy highlights the dangers of journalism
Lyons' death has drawn attention to the dangers that local journalists can face, and rattled many in the industry.
"This is every reporter's absolutely worst nightmare," said WESH2 journalist Luana Munoz in a tearful report from the hospital that has since gone viral. "We go home at night afraid that something like this will occur, and that is what happened here ... There are other media people who are kind of corralled together and standing in solidarity tonight as one of our own has just passed."
Local news outlets have been shrinking and struggling financially for years, which many noted on Twitter makes incidents like Wednesday's shooting even harder to stomach.
"You work egregious hours for incredibly low pay, because you care about the community you serve, and you love being a storyteller," wrote Jon Alba, a journalist with digital streaming service FITE TV. "To have your life end on the job, senselessly nonetheless ... it's a total, unfathomable tragedy."
Mike Chitwood, the sheriff of Volusia County in Florida, tweeted that Lyons was "gunned down doing a tough and often thankless job."
"[Spectrum News 13] and all news crews you are in my heart tonight," he wrote. "I need you to know we care and appreciate the hard work you do and the sacrifices you make. This is a tragedy that should never have happened."
The Committee to Protect Journalists called it "deeply disturbing that a journalist was killed while covering the gun violence that has become a sickening reality of living in the United States."
And it notes that the shooting comes less than six months after Las Vegas Review Journal investigative reporter Jeff German was fatally stabbed (a local official that he had reported on has since been charged with his murder).
Wednesday's shooting is another reminder that journalism is a dangerous business, said the National Press Club, with the risk of violence coming both from subjects of reporting and outside critics.
"We urge all reporters in the field to take extra precaution and redouble efforts to work safely," it said. "We call on those who use hateful rhetoric against journalists online to carefully consider the consequences of their actions."
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.