A Florida television journalist and nine-year-old were fatally shot Wednesday near the scene of a fatal shooting from earlier in the day, sheriff’s deputies said.
Deputies had initially responded to the Pine Hills area, just northwest of Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday morning following reports of a woman in her 20s being shot. According to witnesses, a man approached the news vehicle later Wednesday and opened fire, and then walked to a nearby home and shot the mother and daughter.
Besides the Spectrum News 13 journalist and the 9-year-old girl, a TV crewmember and the girl’s mother were wounded during the second shooting. They were in critical condition at a local hospital.
“I want to acknowledge what a horrible day this has been for our community and our media partners,” Orange County Sheriff John Mina told a room full of reporters on Wednesday. “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 News 13 is not yet identifying the crew members who were involved in the shooting, according to a story on the TV station’s website.The TV station’s parent company, Charter Communications, called the incident a “terrible tragedy” for the community.
“We are deeply saddened by the loss of our colleague and the other lives senselessly taken today,” Charter Communications said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with our employee’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.”
During an on-air report, Spectrum 13 journalist Celeste Springer urged for the public’s support.
“Please, please, say a prayer tonight for our co-worker who is in critical condition,” Springer said. “And while you’re at it, please say a prayer for every victim of gun violence in this country,”
Reporters waited outside Orlando Regional Medical Center as family members and the fiancé of one of the injured journalists gathered. Some reporters broke down on camera as they gave updates on the journalist’s death.
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Sheriff says suspect has ‘lengthy criminal history’
Mina later confirmed that authorities arrested Keith Melvin Moses, 19, who was formally charged with murder from the first incident. Authorities expect to charge Moses for the additional shooting of the four people.
Mina added that Moses already has a “lengthy criminal history,” including gun charges, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and grand theft charges.
Mina added they don’t immediately have a motive for any of the shootings but said that Moses was an acquaintance of the woman who was killed earlier in the day.
While authorities have not previously seen violence against media in the area, Mina said they are investigating.
“But certainly we have seen (violence against media) around the nation and around the world,” Mina said. “So that’s something we’re definitely going to be taking a look at and see if we can put the pieces together and see why this happened.”
‘Another tragic reminder’
Worldwide 40 journalists were reported killed last year, plus another two this year before Wednesday, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Only one of those was in the United States.
Jeff German, who covered politics and corruption for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, was found dead outside of his home in September after being stabbed multiple times. Former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, who had been a frequent subject of German’s reporting, has pleaded not guilty to a murder charge.
In 2015, Virginia reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward were shot and killed during their live TV broadcast for CBS affiliate WDBJ7. The suspect, a former reporter for the TV station, died by suicide during the law enforcement search for him.
News of Wednesday’s shooting reached Washington, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre expressing her condolences on Twitter.
“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,” Jean-Pierre tweeted.
The National Press Club issued a statement Wednesday, saying it was “horrified” to learn about the Florida shootings and urged all reporters in the field to take extra precautions.
“This is another tragic reminder that journalism is a dangerous business and that criminals and those that are the subject of reporting can become violent toward reporters who are doing their jobs,” the organization said. “We call on those who use hateful rhetoric against journalists online to carefully consider the consequences of their actions.”
Contributing: Charles Ventura, USA TODAY; J.D. Gallop, Florida Today; The Associated Press