A mass rampage shooting at a Madden 19 video game tournament left three dead and 11 wounded, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The gunman fired on a group of video game players and then turned the gun on himself, police said.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams identified the suspect as David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, Maryland at a 7:30 p.m. news briefing that included the JSO, the FBI and the ATF.
Williams said police received a number of 911 calls at 1:34 p.m. about shots being fired in a riverfront sports bar. Sheriff’s deputies with SWAT and bomb dogs were on the scene in minutes, the sheriff said. When they arrived they found three people dead. Williams said nine were injured by gunshots and two more were injured while fleeing the building. The sheriff would not provide any identifications of the dead or injured save for the suspect, Katz.
Baltimore media reported that a “witness said Katz lost an intense game, snapped, and started shooting.”
“The witness, who was a video game competitor, said he beat Katz Saturday when they played. When he tried to shake his hand after losing, Katz stared blankly back,” it was reported.
Earlier in the day, numerous lcoal media reported there were four people killed. But Sunday afternoon, Jacksonville authorities cautioned the numbers of dead and injured was “fluid.”
“There are inaccurate numbers being distributed by local and national media. This is fluid and as soon as we have confirmed numbers they will be released. Please remember this Twitter @JSOPIO is the only official source of information.”
Soon after the shooting, JSO confirmed the incident was a mass shooting and warned people to stay away.
The shooting took place at Chicago Pizza and Sports Grille at a shopping and restaurant mecca The Jacksonville Landing on the city’s St. John’s River front. Police were concerned about locating victims.
“We are finding many people hiding in locked areas at The Landing. We ask you to stay calm, stay where you are hiding. SWAT is doing a methodical search inside The Landing. We will get to you. Please don’t come running out.”
News4 Jacksonville reported people were “shot inside a game room at the Chicago Pizza and others may have been wounded in the gunfire. Witnesses said they saw several people being taken out on stretchers.”
In the very disturbing footage of the Madden video game as it was happening live, at least 13 gunshots, and screams, can be heard. And, in the millisecond before the shooting begins, a laser light can be seen pointed at a game player. He has not been officially identified.
Polygon reported that, in the video, “competitors Wesley ‘Joe Rice’ Gittens and Eli ‘True’ Clayton are playing. A red dot, apparently a laser targeting sight, can be seen on Clayton briefly before the screen drops the competitors’ images and the shooting begins. As nine shots ring out, competitors can be heard abandoning their stations, and others are heard fleeing. Then a man is heard crying out, ‘What did he shoot me with?'”
A competitor at the game, Steven “Steveyj” Javaruski, told the Los Angles Times the shooter was a player who’d lost, shot people then shot himself. Javaruski told the paper he saw the person target people, and shot “at least five victims before killing himself,” he told the paper in a Twitter direct message. ON Twitter, known as Noble Stevey J, Javaruski said he was grateful for people reaching put to see if he was ok, but said the incident has “broken” him.
The game was the first of four Madden NFL 19 Classic qualifiers.
A mother who said she made a Twitter account just to follow her gamer son tweeted he was shot three times.
“My son was shot 3 times please keep him in your prayers,” she wrote. Her son is Timothy Anselimo of Brooklyn, a popular gamer called OLarry.
“I made a Twitter just to follow my son’s dream come true and his journey as he plays his heart out for the NBA 2k league PROUD MOM/BLESSED ? Bucks Baby ?”
A friend posted Anselimo was shot in the chest.
“OLarry was shot in chest and hand. I was with him. I have his bag and phone. Plz retweet this to notify 2k community. He is at Florida shands hospital. Didn’t look life threatening to me but injured bad. I love you bro.”
OLarry2K, as Anselimo is called, is a professional NBA2 K League player. Shortly before the shooting he tweeted.
At 8 p.m., Anselimo’s mother tweeted that her son was alive and that he and his gamer friends were lucky to be alive. “God was with these guys today.”
Sheriff Williams said there wee far less than the maximum capacity of around 225 people in the sports bar at the time of the shooting. He also said that fire-rescue personnel happened to be very nearby for a demonstration and training and so the timing of having near-immediate emergency response likely saved lives.
The Madden video game tourney would have wound up with two finishers that would have earned a spot in the Round of 16 at the Madden Classic main event in Las Vegas, Nevada in October. At the Madden Classic Live Finals, “competitors will play for a share of the tournament’s $165,000 prize pool, with the winner taking home $25,000 and both the winner and runner-up earning a spot at this season’s Madden Bowl in April.”
So there were big stakes in the game although it’s not known if the suspect, now dead, had any motive related to the game.
YouTuber and gamer Drini Gjorka, called YoungDrini, a Madden esports competitor for compLexity Gamin, had just two days ago shared a YouTube video on ways to win at Madden. On Sunday, he was shot in the hand during a mass shooting while the Madden tourney was under way. It’s being reported the suspect, who shot 15 people killing at least four, then turned the gun on themselves, had lost the game.
“The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng 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
If I havent said it before, I’ll say it now. I LOVE ALL YOU GUYS”
Images are starting to emerge from the scene from reporter Vic Micolucci of WJXT. One where men are seem hugging and crying.
An hour had passed since the initial reports of a shooting at the video game tournament occurred when Madden organizers tweeted.
The Official EA SPORTS Twitter account for Madden NFL said, “We are aware of an incident at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville. We are working with authorities to gather facts at this stage.”
A few minutes later called the mass shooting incident “horrible.”
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams is holding a briefing at 4:30 p.m.
In the briefing by police few details were shared save that a white male is the suspect and he is dead. Police declined to provide numbers of dead and injured, but local reports indicate that at the University of Florida Health Center there are six living victims; 5 are in stable condition and one is in critical condition.
The victims range in age from 20 to 35 years old. Allyson Henning reported that three of the victims were shot once and three were shot multiple times. It was reported that the victims are being interviewed by police.
One of the players, Chris “Dubby” McFarland, said a bullet grazed his head but he tweeted he was ok. Physically.
As Sheriff Williams prepared to update the media on the mass shooting, Tim Teabow, former professional football quarterback and current Mets outfielder, tweeted out to his hometown city.
Access to the Jacksonville riverfront is blocked and the mayor has asked residents to steer clear.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tweeted out his city’s condolences and solidarity. Orlando was the scene of the Pulse Nightclub shooting of 2016 that claimed the lives of 49 people.
“Another heartbreaking day for our state and country. Orlando stands ready to provide any assistance and support that we can to Jacksonville.”
Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said his city was in mourning.
“One violent crime is one too many. At terrible times, we see the best in people. Today was no different. Witnesses didn’t hesitate to talk to law enforcement,” Curry said during a press conference.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott visited Jacksonville Sunday night. He went to the hospital to visit Anselimo, aka OLarry.
This is a developing story and will be updated as new information is learned.