Shooting Victim Credits Fellow Journalist for Saving His Life

Photographer Jesse Walden mourns his 'best friend' Dylan Lyons in Florida
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2023 11:53 AM CST

The photojournalist who survived Wednesday's deadly shootings in Orlando Springs, Florida, says he never saw his attacker coming. Jesse Walden and reporter Dylan Lyons of Spectrum News 13 had rolled up to the scene of an earlier shooting, where 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin was killed in a vehicle, in preparation for a live shot around 4pm, per WOFL. "The crime scene had already wrapped up, so we had no real clue of where the car was previously, and apparently I ended up parking exactly where that car was before," Walden tells New Mexico's KOB4, where he worked before moving to Florida.

Walden says he'd gotten out of the car to grab gear from the trunk when he heard gunshots and felt pain in his groin. He initially thought he'd been struck in a drive-by shooting. "I turn around … and I see that he's shooting at me," he says of the assailant, per NBC News. "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." Walden tells KOB4 he was able to duck under the wheel of his car before the shooter fired into his vehicle. A media member from another station—elsewhere identified as WFTV—then ran over and put pressure on the wound in his groin, "keeping me alive."

He adds he was waiting for an ambulance when a neighbor opened the passenger door of his vehicle and told him his colleague was dead. Walden says Lyons, his "best friend," was shot in the heart. Lyons, 24, leaves behind a fiancee, a niece and nephew to whom he was "an acting father," and many other loved ones, according to a GoFundMe page raising funds for his funeral. Orange County Sheriff John Mina has said authorities are still seeking answers for why the suspect opened fire on the journalists, another woman, and her daughter, 9-year-old T'yonna Major, who was also killed, as he is not speaking to investigators, per NBC. They also suspect he shot Augustin hours earlier. (Read more fatal shooting stories.)

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