Orlando photographer wounded in shooting that killed journalist and child speaks out from hospital bed
The news photographer critically injured in a shooting attack in Orlando, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon has spoken from his hospital bed for the first time, revealing that he initially thought he had been hit with a stray bullet by mistake.
Jesse Walden, 29, was part of the Spectrum News 13 team that arrived to cover the scene of a homicide in the Pine Hills neighbourhood of the city after a woman, since identified as Nathacha Augustin, 38, was found dead in her car, only for the gunman to return to the scene and fire into their unmarked van for unknown reasons.
The gunfire killed TV reporter Dylan Lyons, 24, a Philadelphia native who had come to the state to study at the University of Central Florida and pursue a media career.
The killer then entered a nearby house and allegedly fired on a mother and her nine-year-old daughter, killing the child, who has since been named as T’yonna Major, an “extremely smart” aspiring gymnast, according to her great-aunt.
A suspect, Keith Melvin Moses, 19, was quickly apprehended by local police and a handgun recovered. He has since declined to cooperate with their questions in custody, according to Orange County sheriff John Mina.
Speaking from his Orlando hospital bed to local station KOB out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his own career began, Mr Walden said he was recovering from a wound to his groin.
Remembering the incident that put him there, he said: “I turn around because I’m like, ‘Oh, there must be a drive-by shooting going on.’
“I see that he’s shooting at me. I was assuming he was shooting at a house or something behind me and I just happened to catch a bullet. But he kept shooting at me.”
My friend Jesse Walden survived the deadly shooting spree in Orlando, FL on Wednesday. The reporter he was working with did not. Dylan Lyons was about the same age I was when I started working with Jesse. We share his story next on @KOB4. pic.twitter.com/2xLVzL2Z3E
— Ryan Laughlin (@RyanLaughlinKOB) February 24, 2023
I am so relieved to say our photographer Jesse Walden is doing better. He's hoping to be out of the hospital in the next day or two, then it's likely months of recovery. It was comforting seeing him but devastating knowing Dylan is gone. @MyNews13 https://t.co/AvKveDX4Ak
— Rebecca Turco (@RebeccaTurcoTV) February 23, 2023
He recalled taking cover by ducking below the van’s steering wheel.
“I was trying to figure out if I could kinda play cat and mouse with him and avoid being shot.”
Remembering his late colleague, with whom he had been paired because they joined the station not long after one another last year, Mr Walden said: “Dylan was a reporter I worked with every day. We were best friends.
“He was just a sweet guy. He was young and he loved trying hard. That’s what we like to do. We like to push the boundaries. We like to get our hands dirty. It’s just unprovoked, senseless, random violence that no one could’ve saw coming.
“It’s so unfair that it happened to Dylan.”