Spectrum Orlando reporter killed, photojournalist injured in shooting
A man who police say shot and killed a 20-year-old woman Wednesday morning near Orlando returned to the area of that murder Wednesday afternoon and went on a shooting spree that killed a Spectrum News 13 reporter and a 9-year-old girl and critically injured a News 13 photojournalist and the girl’s mother.
Spectrum said late Wednesday night that the photojournalist was undergoing surgery but was “responsive.” Spectrum has not yet named the journalists.
The News 13 team was covering the murder that happened earlier in the day. Another journalist who was on the scene, WFTV’s Nick Papantonis, tweeted, “The man then walked up to the other crew working in their car and opened fire.” Witnesses said the Spectrum News vehicle was unmarked, so it was unclear if the shooter knew they were journalists.
Police said the man with the gun then walked into a nearby house and shot the 9-year-old girl and her mother.
WFTV reporter Sabrina Maggiore reported, “Our crews rendered aid on at least one victim before emergency crews arrived.”
WESH 2 reporter Senait Gebregiorgis said she and her photographer left moments before the shooting. “We got a gut feeling,” she said, and decided to leave for their safety.
Orange County Sheriff John W. Mina said police had “detained the person believed to be responsible for the murder this morning as well as the shootings this afternoon.” Mina said the shooter was 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses.
“At 19,” Mina said, “he has a lengthy criminal history, to include gun charges, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and grand theft charges.” (See video of the news conference.)
The sheriff said that it was unclear why the five victims shot on Wednesday were targeted. The 20-year-old woman was an acquaintance of the gunman, Mina said.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel dug into Moses’ criminal history and found:
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement criminal history report listed more than a dozen arrests for Moses dating back to January 2018, when he was arrested on motor vehicle theft and domestic violence battery charges as a juvenile. He pleaded no contest and was sentenced to a year of supervision.
Later arrests included charges of obstructing law enforcement, resisting arrest, burglary, failure to appear in court, grand theft and repeated probation violations, records show. Many of the arrests came when Moses was a minor and arrest reports were not available Wednesday night.
Court records show his most recent Orange County arrest occurred on Nov. 21, 2021, when he and two other young men were seen smoking suspected marijuana in a car near Balboa and Hernandez drives in Pine Hills. As deputies approached the vehicle, someone tossed a firearm from the passenger side, an arrest report said.
Moses, who was on felony probation from a juvenile case at the time, was arrested on charges of possessing cannabis and drug paraphernalia. The case was dropped the following month, with an assistant state attorney writing it was “not suitable for prosecution.”
The Orlando Police Department tweeted:
We send our condolences to @MyNews13 and all families impacted by this tragedy.
We value the relationships we have with our media partners as we all serve our communities together providing critical information. https://t.co/CI4WHWNHY0
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) February 23, 2023
Mina told reporters Wednesday night:
I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and our media partners. I work 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. No one in our community — not a mother, not a 9-year-old and certainly not news professionals — should become the victim of gun violence in our community.
Spectrum’s parent company, Charter Communications, released a statement saying:
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. We remain hopeful that our other colleague who was injured makes a full recovery.
This is a terrible tragedy for the Orlando community.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre tweeted:
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.
— Karine Jean-Pierre (@PressSec) February 23, 2023
Spectrum reporter Celeste Springer, covering the breaking news, said on the air:
This is extremely devastating for all of us, but I am proud to have such an amazing team backing all of us, we really are such an incredible family. And of course we are all praying for our news members.
A couple of hours ago before we learned that our news member had passed away, we all sat in a circle here and said a quick prayer. And all I can ask for anyone watching at home right now is please, please say a prayer for our co-worker who is in critical condition. And while you are at it, please say a prayer for every victim of gun violence in this country.
The Committee to Protect Journalists released a statement soon after the shooting. “We are appalled by the killing of a Spectrum 13 journalist in Orange County, Florida, and we stand in solidarity with the newsroom,” U.S. and Canada program coordinator Katherine Jacobsen said. “It is deeply disturbing that a journalist was killed while covering the gun violence that has become a sickening reality of living in the United States. Reporters must be able to cover the news without having to fear for their lives.”
“In this community of journalists,” WKMG anchor Ginger Gadsden said, “it is a tight-knit community, and when you are out in the field you have each other’s back … our hearts are heavy.”
Reporting from the hospital where the News 13 photojournalist was undergoing surgery, News 6 WKMG reporter Jerry Askin said, choking back tears, “I am trying to keep it together, because we are people. Out here in the field, we cover stories, we are friends, even though we are competitors, we are friends in the field.
“A lot of the journalists here on the scene are crying, trying to make sense of this and accept the reality that this happens. We go out in the field every day and we are assigned the stories and we do our stories and no one thinks they would never come home.”
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