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Mass shooting at Madden 19 tournament in Jacksonville

The suspected shooter was identified by the Jacksonville Sheriffs Department as 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore.

by Hayley Jones
Aug 26 2018, 8:24pm

Getty Images

A disgruntled gamer shot and killed two people and wounded 11 others Sunday at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, before turning the gun on himself.

The suspected shooter was identified by the Jacksonville Sheriffs Department as 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore, who was armed with a handgun that some witnesses said had a laser scope.

The gamers who were killed have yet to be officially identified, although their names are being shared online by friends and family, and in the media as Eli Clayton, 21, of Woodland Hills, California and Taylor Robertson, 27, of Ballard, West Virginia.

Robertson, a husband and father of two, reportedly won the event last year while Katz is believed to have won it the previous year.

Two other victims were injured trying to escape. One firearm was used in the killings, police said.

Law enforcement officials searched Katz’s house in South Baltimore Sunday, according to the Baltimore Sun, as well as seizing his vehicle.

“Pray for Jacksonville as we deal with this senseless tragedy," said Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Police were initially concerned that there was a second shooter, but by Sunday evening Sheriff Mike Williams said police had cleared the scene and "we have no outstanding suspects." Police did not have a motive for the shootings, but witnesses said that Katz was angry having lost the tournament.

The "Madden 19" Xbox tournament was being broadcast online via the Amazon-owned Twitch streaming service. In videos shared online you can hear the gunshots and players' reactions before the stream goes dead.

Jacksonville’s sheriff office said the shooting occurred during the qualifying event at Chicago Pizza in Jacksonville Landing.

Game developer EA called the shooting "a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn. Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured," a company spokesperson said to Reuters late on Sunday.

The shooting seems certain to re-ignite the gun control debate in Florida, which has been the scene of multiple mass shootings over the past several years at the Margory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, and a mass shooting in 2017 at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

One player, Drini Gjoka, was struck in the thumb, according to Complexity Gaming CEO Jason Lake. “The tourney just got shot up. I’m leaving and never coming back,” Grjoka tweeted.

“We’re obviously shocked and saddened by this afternoon’s events our player, Drini, was hit in the thumb but is going to be fine,” he said in a statement to VICE News. “He managed to escape and run down the street to a nearby gym. He’s currently cooperating with the authorities and we will be flying him out of Jacksonville as soon as we are given the green light from the officials on the ground.”

Florida Governor Rick Scott said he'd spoken to the White House, which offered federal resources needed to respond.

Cover image: A Jacksonville Sheriff officer helps keep the perimeter secure as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar at the Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)