A gunman opened fire Sunday at an online video game tournament as it was being livestreamed from a Florida mall, killing two people and then fatally shooting himself in a rampage that wounded several others, authorities said.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said authorities believe 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore carried out the attack using at least one handgun at the Jacksonville Landing, a collection of restaurants and shops along the St. Johns River. Williams said the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot, adding final confirmation of the suspect’s identity was pending as the FBI in Baltimore aided in the investigation.
Nine other people were wounded by gunfire and all were in stable condition Sunday evening after being taken to hospitals, Williams said. He added that two others were injured in the rush to flee the gunfire.
Katz was in Jacksonville for the “Madden NFL 19” video game tournament, authorities said. The games maker, EA Sports, lists a David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.
The competition was held in a gaming bar that shares space with a pizzeria. Viewers could watch the games online and see the players.
Gaming community and friends mourn Jacksonville shooting victims
One of the men shot and killed at a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday had won the national tournament, the Madden Classic, two years ago.
The other was a former high school football player who loved to play the online version of his favorite sport, and had won $51,000 in his short gaming career.
They both died in the shooting at the GLHF Game Bar Sunday, where they were attending a tournament for competitive players of the football video game, Madden. The winners would go on to a higher level tournament in Las Vegas in October, where large cash prizes could be won.
Nine other people suffered gunshot wounds and two people were injured fleeing the area, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. The gunman then turned his weapon on himself.
While the sheriff’s office has not identified the two who were killed, their names have been widely reported on social media by people who were at the bar, members of the gaming community and others.
One of the victims, Taylor “spotmeplzzz” Robertson was identified by his gaming sponsor, Dot City Gaming.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by the senseless violence in Jacksonville and the tragic deaths of Dot City Gaming team member, Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson, and Eli “True” Clayton,” the sponsor said in a two-part tweet.
“They were great competitors and well-loved members of the Madden community. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to their families, loved ones, and all of those affected by this tragedy.”
According to his player profile on EA Sports, Robertson was from Ballard, West Virginia. He was 27 years old, had career winnings of more than $80,000 and had won the Madden NFL 17 Classic. Sunday’s tournament was a qualifying round for the Madden NFL 19 Classic.
The other victim, Eli “trueboy” Clayton, a former high school football player, was identified by the Calabasas High School football team in California.
“Our hearts are broken as we learned that former Calabasas Football player @True__818 (Elijah Clayton) was senselessly murdered today during the mass shooting in Florida. We send our love, condolences, and deepest sense of sorrow to Elijah’s Family and Friends,” the team tweeted.
Clayton, 22, was from Woodland Hills, California. He also went by “true,” according to his EA Sports player profile.
“True is consistently one of the best in competitive Madden,” the biography on his profile page said.
Gunman David Katz, a 24-year-old gamer from Baltimore, Maryland, was in Jacksonville for the tournament. He used at least one handgun in the shooting, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said. Police have not released a possible motive.
‘Worst day of my life’
Several of those who were injured posted their stories on Twitter.
Tony Montagnino, who goes by “G-Tech,” said that he got struck twice in the lower body: “One went through. The other was lodged,” Montagnino tweeted. “Still doesn’t feel real. Saw a lot of things today I wish I hadn’t seen. But I also saw a community of people rally around each other and a massive amount of support from friends and family to check on everyone. I’m thankful for everyone of you guys in the community. I love y’all.”
Drini Gjoka, also known as “YoungDrini,” called Sunday the “worst day of my life” on his verified Twitter page. Gjoka was struck in the thumb.
In another tweet, he said: “I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second.”
Timothy Anselimo, or “olarry,” was shot three times, according to his mother’s Twitter page. On his verified Twitter profile, Anselimo said: “Devastated. No Words. Surgery In The Morning. Thanks To All Who Reached Out.” His mom posted several photos of her son in the hospital with Gov. Rick Scott and a photo of her son’s bloodied backpack.
On Sunday evening, the FBI said, its agents searched a family home of the man authorities believed was behind the attack.
Heavily armed agents, some in bulletproof vests and brandishing long guns, could be seen entering an upscale townhome complex near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
An FBI spokesman, Dave Fitz, confirmed that agents had gone to the house of the man’s father in Baltimore. He declined to release specifics, citing the ongoing investigation. T.J. Smith, chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, also said that agency was assisting law enforcement partners “with some information that has led authorities to Baltimore.”
In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attack and the White House was monitoring the situation.
The Jacksonville Landing, in the heart of the city’s downtown, also hosts concerts and other entertainment. It was the site of a Trump rally in 2015, early in his campaign for the White House.
The sheriff’s office used Twitter and Facebook immediately after the shooting to warn people to stay far away and to ask anyone who was hiding to call 911. Police also barricaded a three-block radius around the mall and sent in a SWAT team and bomb squad experts to secure the area. Police also took up positions on a bridge spanning the river with a view of the area.
Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida. Associated Press Writer Tamara Lush contributed to this report from the Tampa area and Laura Heald from Jacksonville, Florida.
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