Desiree Stennett, Richard Tribou and Jeff Weiner | Orlando Sentinel

Even before he stepped into his first newsroom, Dylan Lyons’ future in journalism looked promising.

While a student at University of Central Florida’s Nicholson School of Communication and Media, Lyons quickly proved himself to be a leader who was interested in teaching others as he learned, said Rick Brunson, a senior instructor in the journalism school.

Brunson taught Lyons in two journalism classes when he was a sophomore at UCF and worked closely with Lyons as advisor of the student chapter of the Radio Television Digital New Association when Lyons was president.

“I would watch him as he was out and about on campus,” Brunson said. “He would bring other students in the [videography] class along with him to kind of coach them and mentor them and show them how to work the camera, how to set up a shot. He was that kind of a guy. He wasn’t just looking out for his own grade. He involved other people around him in such a friendly way. People just loved being with him. That was Dylan.”

Lyons, 24, died after he and another Spectrum News 13 employee, photojournalist Jesse Walden, were shot just after 4 p.m. while working on a report at the scene of a homicide that happened in the 6100 block of Hialeah Street in Pine Hills hours earlier. Walden was critically injured in the shooting but survived.

After killing Lyons, the suspected shooter, 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, walked to a home nearby and shot two others, Orange County Sheriff John Mina said in a press conference Wednesday evening. There, deputies say he killed 9-year-old T’yonna Major and critically injured her mother.

Moses is also suspected in the earlier homicide. The victim, 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin, was found dead in her car around 11:17 a.m. Mina said Moses knew Augustin but it’s unclear if he had any connection to Lyons, T’yonna or the others who were injured.

“No one in our community, not a 9-year-old child or a media professional should become of victim of gun violence,” Mina said.

Lyons was born and raised in Philadelphia, but moved to Florida to attend the University of Central Florida, earning degrees in journalism and political science. He joined Spectrum News 13 in July, according to his bio on the news station’s website.

“As a reporter, he’s honored to have the unique privilege of being a voice for the voiceless and making sure all communities and stories are treated fairly and equally,” it says.

He previously worked for WCJB-TV, a news station in Gainesville. His coverage of the 2020 race for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District was chosen as the best politics or elections reporting series by the Florida Association of Broadcast Journalists.

“When Dylan’s not at work, you can find him taking advantage of the Orlando area’s many different dining experiences and cuisines,” his Spectrum News 13 bio said. “He especially loves exploring Winter Park, Winter Garden, Celebration and or Downtown Orlando with his family and dog.”

In a remembrance posted to the Spectrum News 13 website, friend and colleague Josh Miller said Lyons “took his job very seriously.”

“He loved his career,” Miller said. “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.”

Lyons’ family set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for his funeral.

“He was an acting father to his niece and nephew who he loved so much,” his sister Rachel Lyons wrote. “He loved his fiancé and… was a devoted son to his mother and father.”

In statement shared on Twitter late Wednesday, News 13 parent company Charter communications said, “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,” the statement said. “We remain hopeful that our other colleague who was injured makes a full recovery. This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.”

The motive for the violence remains unclear.

As they mourned their colleague, the station’s staff continued live reporting Wednesday evening.

“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.”

Amanda Rabines and David Harris of the Sentinel staff contributed.

Source: Read Full Article