Child killed in Orlando-area shootings identified
Orlando, FL –
At the age of nine, T’yonna Major excelled in academics and gymnastics. A photo her proud father posted on her social media showed her flexing her arm after wearing her newly won medal around her neck.
“She was a light to all who knew her,” the girl’s father, Tokiyo Major, posted on fundraising site GoFundMe, asking for donations to help cover the costs of her daughter’s funeral. It was everything for
T’yonna died Wednesday after gunmen broke into her home in the Orlando suburb and shot a third-grader who survived the attack and her mother. The Orange County sheriff said the same assailant killed her two others in the Pine Hills neighborhood. A TV journalist was shot in a car outside and hours earlier her 38-year-old woman was murdered in the same area.
Sheriff John Mina said the victim appeared to have been killed at random.
The grieving families and friends of the victims are still coming to terms with the bloody tragedy. At least two of their memorable vigils were planned for Friday night.
Julie Schroeder, who has worked with T’yonna’s father for nearly a decade, described T’yonna’s family as loving and close. She described T’yonna as precocious, her grades top of her class, reading two grades above her age group, as well as being affectionate and well-mannered.
“She was deeply in love when you were around her,” Schroeder told WESH-TV. I called them .. because their families were very respected.”
Her father wrote that Tiyonna was also a “great gymnast” and was often called “the next Gabby Douglas” by her coaches.
Authorities arrested 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses at the scene and charged him with murder. The Orange County and Osceola County public defender offices representing Moses declined to comment.
The first victim, 38-year-old Natasha Augustine, was killed late Wednesday morning. According to his arrest affidavit, a man who claimed to be Moses’ cousin told investigators he was driving with Augustine when he spotted Moses and offered to ride with him.
According to witnesses whose names have been redacted from affidavits, Moses got into the back seat behind Augustine and was shot dead about 30 seconds later before Moses fled on foot.
Hours later, the news crew at the shooting site included Spectrum News 13 reporter Dylan Lyons and photographer Jesse Walden. They find themselves caught in another gunshot. The sheriff said they also fired when Moses returned five hours after the first shot.
Lyons, 24, was shot dead while sitting inside an unmarked news vehicle. Walden was injured and taken to hospital.
“You’re missing a friend,” Walden said of Lyons from his hospital bed.
Walden said he and Lyons began working in television around the same time last year and regularly covered stories together on the night shift.
“He had a very strong sense of justice,” Walden said. “He really wanted everyone to follow the rules when it came to those in power.”
Authorities said the shooter then entered T’yonna’s nearby home and shot the girl and her mother. Mina said the suspect was still in possession of a freshly fired semi-automatic pistol when deputies forced Moses to the ground outside and arrested him.