On February 22, 2023, a young man armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun opened fire at a busy shopping mall in Orlando, Florida, killing three people and injuring two others before fleeing the scene.

The suspect was later identified as Keith Melvin Moses, a 19-year-old from Orlando, who had a history of mental illness and drug abuse.

Moses, a member of a gang and with a history of breaking the law, is currently being charged with the death penalty for killing Nathacha Augustin, who was 38 years old; Dylan Lyons, who was 24 years old; and T’yonna Major, who was only 9. 

What caused him to commit this terrible act of violence? How did he obtain the weapons and evade the authorities? 

In this article, we will explore the background, motives, and victims of the Orlando shooting spree, and the legal process and the death penalty. 

A Day of Terror and Tragedy

The Orlando shooting spree that claimed the lives of three innocent people and wounded two others began around 11 a.m. on February 22, 2023, when deputies from the Orange County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call of a shooting at a residence on Dunsford Drive in Pine Hills. 

There, they found the body of Nathacha Augustin, 38, who had been fatally shot by Moses, an acquaintance of hers. 

The motive for this killing remains unclear, but authorities said Moses had a history of mental illness and drug abuse.

Around 4 p.m., as the investigation of the first homicide was underway, Moses returned to the same area and opened fire on two crew members from Spectrum News 13, who were covering the crime scene from their news vehicle. 

The victims were identified as Dylan Lyons, 24, a reporter, and Jesse Walden, a photographer. Lyons died from his injuries, while Walden was critically wounded and taken to a hospital. 

According to Sheriff John Mina, it is unknown if Moses knew they were media personnel or not, or why he targeted them.

Moses then entered a nearby home on Gamble Drive, where he shot a mother and her 9-year-old daughter, who were watching TV in their living room. 

The child, T’yonna Major, was killed, while her mother, Tawanna Major, was seriously injured and rushed to a hospital. 

Mina said Moses had no connection to the mother and daughter, and that they were random victims of his rampage.

Moses fled the scene in a stolen car, but was later spotted by deputies and pursued in a high-speed chase that ended in a crash near Silver Star Road and Powers Drive. Moses was arrested and taken into custody without further incident. 

He was armed with a Glock 40, a semi-automatic handgun that he had obtained illegally. 

He also had a lengthy criminal record, including charges of gun possession, aggravated battery, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary, and grand theft. 

He was also a known gang member, according to officials.

Moses is now facing three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, and other charges related to the shooting spree. 

He is being held without bond at the Orange County Jail, and the state attorney is seeking the death penalty for him.

The Victims and Their Families

The Orlando shooting spree that claimed the lives of three innocent people and wounded two others left behind a trail of grief and devastation for their families and friends. 

The victims came from different backgrounds and walks of life, but they all shared a common fate at the hands of a ruthless gunman. 

Here are some of the stories of the people who lost their lives or were injured in the tragic incident.

  • Nathacha Augustin, 38, was the first victim of Moses, who shot her from the backseat of a car they were riding in with his cousin. 

Augustin was a mother of four children, who ranged in age from 6 to 18. 

She worked as a home health aide and was described by her family as a loving, hardworking, and generous person. 

Her cousin, Marie Augustin, said she was shocked and heartbroken by her death, and that she had no idea why Moses would kill her. “She was a good person. She didn’t deserve this,” Marie Augustin said.

  • Dylan Lyons, 24, was a reporter for Spectrum News 13, who was covering the homicide of Augustin when he was fatally shot by Moses near his news vehicle. 

Lyons had moved to Florida from New York in 2022 to pursue his dream of being a journalist. 

He was passionate about his career and loved telling stories that mattered to the community. He was also a devoted son, brother, and friend, who had a bright and cheerful personality. 

His colleagues at Spectrum News 13 paid tribute to him as a talented and dedicated reporter, who always had a smile on his face. 

“He was a great guy. He was a great journalist. He was a great storyteller,” said Spectrum News 13 anchor Ybeth Bruzual.

  • T’yonna Major, 9, was a fourth-grader at Rolling Hills Elementary School, who was shot and killed by Moses as she was watching TV with her mother in their living room. 

T’yonna was a bright and bubbly girl, who loved to dance, sing, and play with her friends. She was also a good student, who enjoyed reading and math. 

Her mother, Tawanna Major, 39, was seriously injured in the shooting and remains in critical condition at a hospital. 

T’yonna’s grandmother, Patricia Major, said she was devastated by the loss of her granddaughter, who was like a daughter to her. “She was my heart. She was my everything,” Patricia Major said. 

The Legal Process and the Death Penalty

The legal process for Keith Moses, the suspect in the Orlando shooting spree that killed three people and injured two others, has been marked by delays and challenges. 

Moses, who pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder and other charges, was initially found incompetent to stand trial in September 2023, after his attorneys said they had trouble communicating with him and he refused to answer questions in court. 

He was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation by two psychiatrists and two psychologists, who examined his mental state and history.

However, in January 2024, Moses was found competent to face the murder charges, after the court-appointed psychologists testified that he understood the charges against him and the legal process he would undergo. 

They also said that he did not have any active symptoms of a mental illness that would impair his competency, and that he was likely competent but unwilling to proceed. 

Moses’ trial date has been scheduled for June 24, 2024, but his attorneys have indicated that it will likely be postponed.

Moses is facing the death penalty for the murders of Nathacha Augustin, T’yonna Major, and Dylan Lyons, as the state attorney announced his intention to seek capital punishment in March 2023. 

The decision was based on the aggravating factors of the case, such as the heinous, atrocious, and cruel nature of the crimes, the multiple victims, and the lack of remorse shown by Moses. 

The death penalty is a controversial and divisive issue in Florida, as the state has one of the largest death rows in the country, with 339 inmates as of January 2024. 

The state has also faced legal challenges and criticism over its lethal injection protocol, its jury instructions, and its clemency process. 

The last execution in Florida was in August 2019, when Gary Ray Bowles was put to death for killing six men in 1994.

Bottom Line

The Keith Melvin Moses case has sparked debates and discussions about the state of gun control, mental health, and immigration in America, as well as the morality and efficacy of the death penalty. 

As the legal process for Moses continues, the families and friends of the victims are still mourning their loss and seeking justice. 

The community is also trying to heal and recover from the trauma and fear caused by the shooting spree.