Jacksonville mass shooting: ‘Gamer’ kills two and injures 11 after opening fire at Madden NFL video game tournament in Florida
A gunman opened fire at a live-streamed video game tournament in Florida on Sunday, killing two before turning the gun on himself.
Eleven others were shot and wounded at Jacksonville Landing, a waterfront dining, entertainment and shopping site in the city’s downtown, while at least two others were injured while fleeing the scene.
Sheriff Mike Williams said police believed the suspect was David Katz, a 24-year-old from Baltimore, who used at least one handgun.
"There were three deceased individuals at the scene, one of those being the suspect, who took his own life," Sheriff Mike Williams told a news conference
"There were nine victims transported by JFRD (local fire and rescue) to area hospitals. Some of those have gunshot wounds. There were two additional gunshot victims that self-transported themselves to local hospitals."
He said authorities were still making final confirmation of his identity with the FBI assisting them in Baltimore.
A Baltimore City police spokesman, TJ Smith, said the department was assisting partner law enforcement agencies with information that led them to Baltimore.
The shooting took place during a regional qualifier for the Madden 19 online game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar inside a Chicago Pizza restaurant, according to the venue’s website.
Suspect was ‘disgruntled gamer’
Katz, who was in Jacksonville for the video game tournament, is listed by games maker, EA Sports, as a 2017 championship winner.
Steven "Steveyj" Javaruski, a professional Madden player for Noble eSports, said the shooter had been competing and lost, the LA Times reported.
Mr Javaruski said he witnessed his fellow competitor target a "few people” killing at least two or three and shooting multiple others.
Sheriff Williams declined to comment on what led to the third major mass shooting to hit Florida in the last two years.
The two fatalities have been identified as Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson, the LA Times reported.
“RIP to Trueboy and Spotme,” Javaruski tweeted, referring to the handles they adopted for the screen. “This is the worst day of my life.”
Chicago Pizza was live-streaming the tournament for the Madden NFL football video game when at least nine shots rang out, according to video of the stream shared on social media.
Investigators were looking into online video that appeared to capture the scene right before the shooting began, Sheriff Williams said.
In the video, players can be seen reacting to the gunfire and cries can be heard before the footage cuts off.
Just before the shots were heard, a red laser dot appeared on the chest of one of the players, who was wearing white headphones and a red sweatshirt.
Jacksonville shooting – Locator map
Reacting to news of the shooting during the tournament involving its game, Madden 19 maker Electronic Arts Inc said it was working with authorities to gather facts.
"This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved," the company said on Twitter.
SK Gaming, a professional online sports organisation based in Germany, said one of its players was present at the event.
"There was a shooting at the Madden tournament in Jacksonville. Our player @JoelCP_ is safe. Our thoughts are with everyone that had to be part of such a horrendous event. Stay strong, stay safe," the organisation tweeted.
Witnesses describe moment shots rang out
Sujeil Lopez was at home in Tampa Bay, Florida when she got a call that her son Larry, 25, had been shot, the New York Times reported.
“I have to get to him. I am four hours away from him and I have to get to my son,” Ms Lopez told the newspaper.
“He was shot three times, once on the nipple, once on his hand and somewhere else.” she said
Her son is a professional video game player for the Bucks Gaming team, according to his Twitter profile.
Another gamer, Drini Gjoka, said on Twitter that a bullet struck him in a thumb.
He tweeted: "The tourney just got shot up. I’m leaving and never coming back. I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb. Worst day of my life. I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second."
Marquis Williams, 28, and his girlfriend, Taylor Poindexter, 26, both from Chicago, were ordering pizza at the bar when they heard the gunfire.
Mr Williams said people trampled each other trying to get away.
BREAKING: Madden Tournament participant Marquis Williams from Chicago tells @FCN2go he was from 50 feet from the shooter. pic.twitter.com/UrDR8c6o5m
— Eric Alvarez (@FCNEric) August 26, 2018
"Initially we thought it was a balloon popping, but there weren’t any balloons in the room. Then we heard repeat shots and we took off running," said Mr Williams, who participated in the tournament earlier.
Another gamer, Chris "Dubby" McFarland, was taken to hospital after a bullet grazed his head. "I feel fine, just a scratch on my head. Traumatized and devastated," he wrote on Twitter.
Local outlet News4Jax said several ambulances, as well as firefighters and police officers, were on the scene, and that roads were being blocked off in the downtown area.
Shock in gaming community
The tragedy sent shockwaves throughthe increasingly lucrative world of professional gaming, in which such tournaments are common.
Online audiences can be huge for such events, at which competitors can use social media to accrue fans and endorsement deals while earning advertising revenue from streaming services.
"I just wanna say RIP to trueboy and spotme and my prayers go out to their families," one player tweeted, calling the two victims "two of the nicest people ever".
Some industry figures said security was not high enough for such competitions. In December, the Call of Duty World League tournament held in Dallas was evacuated – twice – due to bomb threats.
“I’ve been saying events NEED better security,” Seth Abner, a popular “Call of Duty” player, tweeted. “Such a damn shame that now event coordinators will respond after a tragedy happens. Thoughts are with everyone at the Madden tournament and their families.”
Joey Cuellar, the tournament director for the Evolution Championship Series, an esports event that focuses on fighting games, tweeted: "It’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond."
I'm only making one tweet and i just wanna say RIP to trueboy and spotme and my prayers go out to their families. I lost one of my best friends in madden in spotme, him and trueboy were two of the nicest people ever. Please pray for everyone effected by this shooting.
— Gos (@gos_madden) August 26, 2018
Florida Governor Rick Scott said President Donald Trump had called him, offering any federal help needed in response to the mass shooting.
Marco Rubio, US senator from Florida, said both the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were coordinating with local authorities to provide assistance.
The NFL issued a statement saying it was "shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy" in Jacksonville. "We support our partners at EA Sports and will continue to monitor developments with local law enforcement."
Shooting fuels gun control debate
The Florida shooting occurs amid a debate about US gun laws that was given fresh impetus by the massacre in February of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Two years ago a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Student gun control advocates and one of the survivors of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting on Sunday completed a 50-mile, four-day march in Massachusetts to the headquarters of gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, where they protested gun violence and weapons manufacturing.
More than 100 protesters rallied outside company headquarters in Springfield. They held American flags and signs that read "We Can End Gun Violence" and "Books not Bullets."
The marchers condemned Smith & Wesson for making the rifle used in the February mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The group wants the company to donate $5 million to gun violence research.
Survivors of February’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, expressed sorrow at news of another mass shooting in the state.
"Once again, my heart hurts and all of me is so angry. We cannot accept this as our reality," said Delaney Tarr, one of the organizers of the student-led March for Our Lives movement.
The incident comes after another shooting in the city on Friday night in which a young man was killed and a teenage girl and boy were injured as they left an American football game.
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