A pro “Madden NFL” player is being hailed as a hero after he physically shielded others during a mass shooting in a Jacksonville, Fla. bar on Sunday.
Tournament participant Ronald Casey, who once starred on ESPN’s “Madden Nation,” used his body to protect younger players after a gunman opened fire during a Madden Classic event, according to Fox 45 Now.
“A bullet hit the wall or whatever came over, and I could smell it,” said Casey, a pro “Madden” player from Kettering, Ohio. “That’s when I was like, man, I just made the decision to jump on top of the guys.”
The shooting occurred at the GLHF Bar in the Jacksonville Landing complex. Authorities say 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore, Md. killed two people — Taylor Robertson, 28, and Elijah Clayton, 22, — and wounded 10 others before taking his own life. Katz participated in the tournament, but at some point he reportedly brought two handguns into the bar and specifically targeted his fellow gamers. Katz had a history of mental illness, according to CNN. He was in treatment for psychiatric issues at least as early as the age of 12 and was prescribed a number of psychiatric medications. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office hasn’t released a motive for the shooting.
There was no security during the tournament and the room it was held in was small, Casey said. He told Fox 45 Now that he’s glad Katz only used a handgun during the shooting. “Thankfully, it wasn’t an automatic weapon,” he said. “If it was an automatic weapon like some of these other school’s shootings and stuff, we all would have been done. We were trapped.”
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People on Twitter are thanking Casey for his selfless act, including a pro “Madden” player who goes by the name Joel CP. He was one of the people Casey shielded.
“Love to @SirusTheVirusTV for covering me,” he said on Sunday.
“I can’t begin to thank you for covering my child,” said Joel CP’s mother, Lisa Crooms-Robinson.
“@SirusTheVirusTV and @fitzmagic13 dad are heroes,” said pro “Madden” player Jokeeee. “Shout out to these guys for putting other people’s lives in front of theirs and trying to shield them while the shooting happened. Truly glad they’re both okay.”
“I’m far from a hero, just felt like it was the best decision,” Casey replied on Monday. “I was worried about the guys @BeastModeMac816 @JoelCP_ and myself at that moment. They were the closest to me. I figured I was the biggest person and it was just in the moment. I wish I could have done more. I’m sick.”
The Jacksonville Landing reopened Tuesday morning and a memorial has sprung up honoring Clayton and Robertson, according to News 4 Jax.
“Madden NFL” publisher Electronic Arts has canceled the three remaining qualifier events and said it’s running a “comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators.”