The coach of a 9-year-old girl who was killed along with a Spectrum News 13 reporter on Feb. 22 is speaking out during the aftermath of the tragedy.
T’yonna Major and her mother, Brandi Major, were shot after a gunman later identified as 19-year-old Keith Melvin Moses, reportedly went on a shooting spree in Pine Hills, Florida.
Moses first allegedly shot and killed 38-year-old Nathacha Augustin after the car she was riding in stopped and offered him a ride.
After a Spectrum 13 News crew showed up to report on the shooting, Moses returned to the scene hours later and entered the Major’s house.
Moses allegedly first shot T’yonna, who woke her mother up by screaming, “he shot me.”
Moses then shot her mother in her arm. T’yonna’s father, Tokiyo Major, was later seen running out of the house crying for help while saying his daughter had been shot.
T’yonna later died at the hospital.
Tokiyo Major shared a message on a GoFundMe set up to help cover funeral costs and medical expenses.
“Hi my name is Tokiyo Major on February 22, 2023 the unthinkable happened. Our home was invaded by an armed gunman, who gunned down my 9 yr old daughter and shot my wife. Senseless violence has taken the life of my little girl, T’Yonna Major,” wrote Major.
“She was a light to everyone that knew her. She was everything to us. She was a great student at the top of her 3rd grade class and reading at a 5th grade level. She was outgoing as well as an amazing gymnast. As her teachers would say ‘The next Gabby Douglas.’
He continued, “We are trying to raise money for funeral costs, a memorial and therapy for our family to get thru this difficult time. Anything you can give would be appreciated. Our hearts also go out to the other victims in this tragedy. Please continue to keep us in your prayers. We thank you for your support.”
Moses allegedly left the Major’s house and walked up to the Spectrum News 13 crew and where he fatally shot Lyons. He also shot and critically wounded video journalist Jesse Walden.
Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies located Moses close by within minutes of the shooting and claimed he was carrying a Glock .40-caliber handgun that was still hot to the touch in his pants.
Video of Moses being arrested was shared on social media by the Orange County Sherriff’s Office. Moses is heard yelling on the video. “They’re killing me! They’re killing me. They’re killing me! They’re killing me! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go! Let me go!”
T’yonna was on the Orlando Metro Gymnastics team and was the team leader, according to her coach, Donna Alexin.
“She was the leader of the team,” said Alexin, adding that the team called the natural-born gymnast “T.”
“When God put her in the crystal ball, he said, ‘You’re going to be a gymnast.’ It was like I was a sponge, and she had to soak me up to get all the information she could out of me,” said Alexin. “She was very driven. Very, very focused. Well beyond her nine years of life.”
Alexin told WESH2 News that T’yonna had already won dozens of medals in gymnastics and practiced three times per week, until Feb. 22. Alexin said she wondered where T’Yonna was, because she never missed practice. “I went over to coach Noah, and I said, ‘Where in the world is T? She never, ever, ever misses a practice.”
The gymnastics coach also noted that had the shooter come back 30 minutes later, T’yonna would have already left home for practice. “If he had come in the back of their house 30 minutes earlier, she’d have been at school. Thirty minutes later, she’d have already been headed to gym,” said Alexin. “So it’s just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. And she just had so much to offer.”
Alexin also shared some words from T’yonna’s father. “Her dad said, ‘You’da been proud of her. She fought. She fought for her life in the ambulance and she fought for her life on the operating room table,’” she said. “And she was a fighter. ‘Cause I always told her dad, she’s a fighter. She’s a warrior in competition. She just wanted to be the best she could be out there.”
T’yonna’s great-aunt Phyllis Turner said that the 9-year-old “had the ability not only to excel and go to the Olympics,” but also to compete in gymnastics in college. “She was a perfectionist. She didn’t like second and third place,” Turner said. “She just believed in excelling in everything she did.”
Moses was charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of armed burglary.
An open gym fundraiser is being held for the family at all four Orlando Metro Gymnastics locations on Friday, March 3 with all proceeds going to the Major family’s GoFundMe.