UPDATED: The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said two people were killed and 11 injured by a gunman during a “Madden NFL 19” tournament on Sunday at the GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville, Fla.
The sheriff’s office identified the suspect as 24-year-old David Katz. Katz originates from Baltimore, Md., and was reportedly in town for the “Madden” competition. Authorities said on Monday he brought two handguns and extra ammunition into the bar — which shares a front door with Chicago Pizza — and walked past other patrons to get to the tournament in the back, clearly targeting the gamers there. He reportedly took his own life during the shooting.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Katz bought the guns legally from a licensed dealer in Maryland, but only fired one. One of them allegedly had an after-market laser sight that attached to the trigger. In a video posted to YouTube [warning: it’s disturbing] on Sunday, a red dot is visible on one of the “Madden” players seconds before the shooting started.
The two people killed on Sunday were 28-year-old Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson and 22-year-old Elijah “Trueboy” Clayton. Both were professional “Madden” players participating in the tournament. Ten others were taken to local hospitals with gun-related injuries. The sheriff’s office said all are in stable condition. One additional person was also treated for a non gun-related injury.
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Electronics Arts, publisher of the “Madden NFL” franchise, released a statement on Monday after authorities officially identified Robertson and Clayton as the two killed during the shooting.
“The authorities have confirmed that we lost two respected members of our community yesterday, Elijah ‘TrueBoy’ Clayton and Taylor ‘SpotMePlzz’ Robertson. Their deaths are an inconceivable tragedy, and we offer our deepest sympathies to their families, to those injured and everyone affected by this. Many of us at EA knew Elijah and Taylor well, and their positive, competitive spirit and respect for other players were evident to everyone. They earned the admiration of all who watched them compete, and we will miss them greatly. We are committed to supporting their family members through this difficult time.”
Robertson was a member of Dot City Gaming, which released its own statement to Variety on Monday: “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 “TrueBoy” Clayton. 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.”
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said there’s no concrete motive for the shooting yet.
Participants took to Twitter during and after the shooting to process the incident.
One player wrote that a bullet grazed his head. “I feel fine, just a scratch on my head. Traumatized and devastated.”
The tournament, which took place at a collection of shops known as The Landing along the St. Johns River, was broadcast on Twitch. It was the first of four qualifier events for the Madden Classic series sponsored by EA Sports. The first place winner of the tournament will receive a $25,000 cash prize, with smaller cash prizes for those who rank lower for a total of $165,000 in cash prizes.
Shots can be heard in video from the live stream, which eventually cuts off amid shouts and gunfire.
The sheriff’s department’s Twitter indicated that many had sought safety in locked rooms in areas surrounding The Landing. Authorities asked anyone sheltering to call 911 so that they could be found and assisted and warned them not to “come running out” as SWAT was conducting a “methodical search” of the area.
Twitch posted a statement on Twitter, expressing their “deepest sympathies to the victims, their loved ones, and everyone in our community who’s grieving today.” Twitch stopped the livestream to the event and any videos showing the event as soon as they were made aware of it.
EA Sports Madden NFL released a preliminary statement via Twitter on Sunday. “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.” The company followed up with a second statement shortly after, expressing its “deepest sympathies” to those involved.
EA later released another statement Sunday denouncing the shooting, expressing sympathy for the victims, and thanking Jacksonville’s first responders.
“The tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn,” an EA spokesperson told Variety. “Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured. All of us at Electronic Arts are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene. Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue their investigation into this crime.”
The NFL also released a statement addressing the shooting, saying they will continue to “monitor developments with local law enforcement.”
Complexity Gaming, which had a player at the event, also issued a statement to Variety: “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 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.”
The Entertainment Software Association released its own statement late Sunday night: “We are deeply saddened by the tragedy that occurred in Jacksonville, Florida. As a community of gamers, we are united and wish to express our condolences and extend our support to the individuals and families impacted by this senseless act.”
Florida governor Rick Scott tweeted that he was in contact with the sheriff’s department to “offer any state resources he may need.” He wrote that he had also spoken with Jacksonville mayor Lenny Curry and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rich Swearingen.
The GLHF Game Bar also posted on Facebook that all their staff is safe and accounted for.
During the Overwatch League All-Star game on Sunday, commentator Chris Puckett read a statement on the shooting. “On behalf of everyone from the Overwatch League, we are deeply saddened to hear about the shooting that just took place at a Madden tournament this afternoon in Jacksonville, Fla. We want to express our condolences to the victims and extend our support to everyone impacted by this tragic event.”