WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: A professional gamer has been identified as the suspected gunman who killed two people and wounded at least nine others during a Florida video game tournament.
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 during a “Madden NFL 19” competition.
He said the suspect died from a self-inflicted gunshot and that authorities were still making final confirmation of his identity with the FBI assisting them in Baltimore.
A competitor in the tournament told the Los Angeles Times that Katz was a player who lost and then opened fire on others before killing himself.
Congrats to David Katz, the Madden 17 Bills Championship winner!
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) February 27, 2017
The game’s creator, EA Sports, lists David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.
Sheriff Williams said there were 14 total casualties including the deceased, with 12 in hospital.
Nine were transported by ambulance, seven of which had gunshot wounds, with two others self-transporting to the hospital after fleeing the scene. He added that all were in a stable condition at hospitals in the area.
Red dot spotted during livestream
The livestream, which was broadcasted around the world, shows what appears to be a laser pointer visible on the chest of a player seconds before the first of a dozen gunshots rings out.
Investigators were looking into the online video that appeared to capture the scene right before the shooting began.
Marquis Williams, 28, and his girlfriend, Taylor Poindexter, 26, both from Chicago, were ordering pizza at the bar when they heard the gunfire. Williams said people trampled each other in the panic while trying to get away.
“Initially we thought it was a balloon popping, but there weren’t any balloons in the room. Then we heard repeat shots and we took off running,” Mr Williams said.
This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.
— EA SPORTS Madden NFL (@EAMaddenNFL) August 26, 2018
Jason Lake, the founder and CEO of CompLexity, a company that owns professional e-sports teams, said on Twitter that one of his players, 19-year-old Drini Gjoka, was shot in the thumb.
Gjoka tweeted: “The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng and never coming back.” Then: “I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb. Worst day of my life.”
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.
The tournament was the first of four qualifier events for the Madden Classic series which will eventually narrow down to 72 competitors. The first place winner of the tournament will receive a $34,100 cash prize.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement it was not aware of any Australians being affected by the shooting.