Jacksonville Madden NFL ’19 Event the Scene of Fatal Shootings

Jacksonville Video Game Shooting

Shots erupted after competitors argued. Early reports suggest one of the losing contestants opened fire on Madden NFL series rivals.

David Katz, a 24-year old gamer from Baltimore, Maryland, opened fire at an eSports tournament in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, killing 2 people and hitting at least 9 others at the event. The shooter, who appears to have been disgruntled at losing a game during the event, then killed himself.

The tragedy happened at the Madden NFL Championship Series shortly after 1:30pm local time at Jacksonville Landing, a centrally located shopping center filled with retail outlets, restaurants, and bars. The shooting took place at GLHF Game Bar, a local bar which caters to game enthusiasts. The tournament included several professional eSports teams at a Madden NFL 19 event.

Jacksonville Landing is located along the St. John’s River in Jacksonville. The area’s developers describe the shopping center as having “a wide variety of waterfront dining options and a cozy inside shopping mall.”

During a Twitch live stream of the event, one could hear shots ring out in the background. Those at the scene claimed the shooting began over an argument among competitors. The shooter is believed to have lost a Madden contest and been disgruntled or simply upset over the loss.

The two who died of gunshot wounds were not random victims, but appear to have been targeted by Katz: Taylor “SpotMePlzzz” Robertson, 27, and Eli “trueboy” Clayton, 22. The shooter, David “Bread” Katz, was a known competitor on the Madden NFL circuit. The simmering rivalries between highly-skilled contestants appears to be a part of the tragedy.

David Katz’s 2017 NFL Club Series Victory

“Bread!,” said the play-by-play announcer during the 2017 NFL Club Series Championship, which was David Katz’s coming out party at the top of the Madden NFL circuit. Katz had competed before, but had not had that breakthrough win. Now was his big moment. Bread Katz came into the event as the No. 7 seed, but he had just defeated the favorite to win the championship, Carlos “Los” Yancy.

The announcer, full of excitement, lauded what was a huge upset victory for David Katz. It appeared to be the beginning of a new star on the circuit. The broadcaster said, “The seventh seed upsets the top seed! I cannot believe it. The gunslinger mentality to go for it!”

Later, David Katz gave his first interview after a big win on the Madden circuit. Bread, as he was nicknamed on the circuit, said, “I didn’t know what to expect. I was glad I was able to play a good game and come out on top.”

Identity of Shooter Unknown

The shooter, who so far is identified only as a white male, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at the event. Investigators said “no outstanding suspects” remain. They consider the incident to be criminal in nature and not a premeditated terrorist incident.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said the shooting happened “inside one of the restaurants in the Landing.”

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) said on social media it hd responded to the shooting. By the time they arrived, it appears that the shooter was dead.

Argument over Madden NFL Championship Series

One witness told Fox News that the shooting stemmed from the video gaming tournament itself. One competitor lost at the Madden NFL Championship Series, a virtual version of NFL football, and was upset at having lost. The same witness told Fox News affiliate WJAX-TV’s reporter, Brittney Donovan, that prior to the shooting, several competitors who had an argument.

The eyewitness told Donovan, “There are multiple guys who are upset or are saying things are like, ‘BS,’ if you will.” Later, the witness added, David Katz went crazy and started shooting up the room.

Alexander Madunic, a Madden NFL 19 competitor who was shot in the foot, said the immediate reason David Katz began shooting might have had to do with an argument, but another reason for the shooting was Katz’s losses at the competition. David Katz had lost a game earlier that morning and was upset about the loss, said Madunic, who added, “He was kinda upset about that, so I’m guessing that had something else to do with it, too.”

50 People Fled GLHF Game Bar

One competitor said he went outside the building to make a phone call when he heard gunfire. The gamer said he looked back at the front door to see building fighting one another to get out of the enclosure, which had roughly 50 people inside it at the time of the shooting.

Besides the dead gunman, the 2 dead at the gunman’s hands, and the 9 injured in the shooting, 2 other people are said to have been injured while trying to flee the scene in a panic.

Three individuals were rushed to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville. All three were treated and remain in stable condition. CNN’s Sheena Jones reproted that another person was being treated at Baptist Medical Center, according to hospital spokesperson Cindy Hamilton.

Video Surfaces of Jacksonville Shooting

A video of the incident surfaced in which roughly 12 competitors were unplugging from video game consoles when shots begin to ring out in the background. One could hear audio of at least 12 shots on the video, though it is unknown what manner of firearm the shooter was using at the time. One person can be heard on the video saying, “Oh f**, what’d he shoot me with?”

Meanwhile, local authorities were trying to reach people trapped inside who might be searching for information on their mobile devices. The Duval County Sheriff’s Office said that many people were found hiding in locked areas throughout the riverfront office complex.

Jacksonville law enforcement released a statement to those who might be on scene, telling them: “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.”

Drini Gjoka Shot in Thumb

Drini Gjoka, who won the 2018 Madden Championship, was on hand to defend his title. After the shooting scene was cleared up, Gjoka took to Twitter to describe his experience and tell fans he had survived — but not without an injury.

The defending champion was shot in the thumb, though he considered that good fortune. Gjoka said, “The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng [sic] and never coming back. I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb. Worst day of my life.”

It is uncertain at present whether Drini Gjoka was retiring from eSports, stating he would not attend another Madden NFL Championship Series, or he would never return to Jacksonville Landing. Florida is an epicenter of the gun control debate in the United States, due to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February 2018, the Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016, and the state’s controversial stand-your-ground law, which played a prominent role in the Trayvon Martin shooting by George Zimmerman.

Madden 19 Video Game

Madden 19 is the latest installment in the long-running virtual pro football video game, Madden NFL, which began in 1988 as John Madden Football and is now in its 29th edition. When John Madden first signed to do a video game in 1984, he demanded that the game be realistic. For that reason, it took developers 4 years to design the game. It was worth the wait, as Madden NFL was a popular video game at the time and has grown steadily in popularity since.

Esports competitions are held all over the United States and, in fact, around the globe. Popular video games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Dota 2, and League of Legends are the main staple of eSports circuits throughout the world. Virtual sports games like Madden 19 and FIFA 19 have their own devoted following. Madden competitions have had their own ESPN reality tv series, where competitors travel around the country playing to see who advances to the national championship series.

Who Was the Jacksonville Madden NFL Shooter?

While the shooter’s name is not known at the moment, it is possible the shooter will have been a known competitor, given the establishment of a Madden NFL tournament circuit. Such players sometimes travel the circuit and develop both fan followings on YouTube and Twitch — as well as circuit rivalries.

It is unknown at present how many professional teams were in attendance, though SK Gaming out of Germany said it had sent a professional eSports competitor to the Madden NFL Championship Series.