Three people including the shooter were killed and 11 others injured when a gunman opened fire at a popular waterfront mall in Jacksonville, where a video game tournament was going on. Graphic recordings from the scene captured gunshots ringing out and the screams of terrified patrons taking cover.
David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, Md., has been identified as the gunman, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said. Katz used a single handgun to carry out the shooting, then turned the gun on himself, Williams said. He described Katz as a white male who was participating in the gaming event. He didn't know if Katz was acquainted with the victims.
Besides Katz, the dead have been identified as Taylor Robertson, 27, of Ballard, W. Va., a husband and father; and Elijah Clayton, 22, of Woodland Hills, Calif. Both had traveled to Jacksonville specifically for the event. Early Monday the gaming community, as well as close friends, were still posting on social media about the victims.
Nine were wounded by gunfire and two others were injured as they fled the shooting, Williams said. They are all in stable condition.
The tournament for "Madden NFL 19" players was being held at the GLHF Game Bar, which shares space with a restaurant. The bar said in a Facebook message that all staff members and the owner were able to escape "untouched."
Gunshots can be heard in recordings from the tournament on the bar's Twitch account, which was streaming the competition. Williams said investigators were reviewing the footage as evidence and encouraged the public to turn in any additional videos that could help with the investigation.
Williams said the FBI is assisting with the investigation in Baltimore. Investigators believe Katz may have stayed in a hotel during the event. He said authorities have impounded his vehicle and plan to search it for evidence.
Police refused to confirm local media reports that he began shooting after becoming angry following a loss at the gaming tournament.
Drini Gjoka, who was competing in the event, tweeted about the shooting in the immediate aftermath. "The tourney just got shot up. I'm leaving and never coming back," he wrote at 1:37 p.m. Four minutes later, he added that a bullet had struck him in the thumb, and later called Sunday the "worst day of my life."
"I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second," he said.
TV networks reported there were 150 people in Jacksonville for the two-day event, including players and spectators. Players were competing for a chance to play in the final round in Las Vegas. "This is your chance to earn your spot in the first Major's Live Finals happening in October 2018," the Facebook page for the event reads. "Don't hesitate to secure your spot!"
Florida Gov. Rick Scott, who was traveling to Jacksonville, tweeted that he offered state resources to the local law enforcement. His office said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Florida Highway Patrol were assisting in the investigation.
EA Sports said it was aware of the shooting and is working with authorities to gather information. "This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved," the company said.
The NFL issued a statement, too, saying it was "shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy" in Jacksonville. "We support our partners at EA Sports and will continue to monitor developments with local law enforcement."
Police say what they still don't have is Katz's motive.
Gov. Rick Scott said this evening he was on his way to Jacksonville. In a Twitter message he said, "I’ve spoken to @JSOPIO Mike Williams to offer any state resources he may need. FDLE is currently responding, and I have spoken to FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen regarding the shooting in Jacksonville. We will continue to receive updates from law enforcement."
Florida has seen a number of mass shootings in recent years, including at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, when 49 people died, and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February, when 17 people were killed.
Reach Nancy Smith at sunshintstatenews.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith. Note: The information for this story was taken largely from TV network news reports.