Gunman targets gaming event in Florida, kills 2 people, self

Posted: August 27, 2018 at 4:30 a.m.

Police gather after an active shooter was reported at the Jacksonville Landing on Sunday in Jack- sonville, Fla.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A gunman opened fire Sunday at a video game tournament as it was being livestreamed from a Florida mall, killing two people and then fatally shooting himself in an attack that sent several others to hospitals, authorities said.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said authorities believe that 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore carried out the attack using at least one handgun at the Jacksonville Landing, a collection of restaurants and shops along the St. Johns River. Williams said the man died from a self-inflicted gunshot, adding that authorities were still making final confirmation of his identity with assistance from the FBI office in Baltimore.

Nine people were wounded by gunfire, and all were in stable condition Sunday evening after going to hospitals, Williams said. He added that two others were hurt as people sought to flee the gunfire in the panic and chaos that ensued.

Six victims -- ranging in age from 20 to 35 -- were taken to University of Florida Health Jacksonville hospital, according to hospital spokesman Dan Leveton. He said most of them suffered multiple gunshot wounds and that one who was hit in the chest was expected to stay overnight for surgery.

Three other victims were taken to Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville and were in stable condition, spokesman Peter Moberg said.

Katz was in Jacksonville for the Madden NFL 19 video game tournament, authorities said. The game's maker, EA Sports, lists a David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.

On Sunday evening, an FBI official in Baltimore confirmed that agents were searching the family home of the man who authorities said they believe was behind the attack. An FBI spokesman, Dave Fitz, said agents had gone to the house of the man's father in Baltimore.

The shooting happened at the GLHF Game Bar, which was hosting a qualifying round for the Madden NFL Championship Series that viewers could watch on Twitch, a gaming network owned by Amazon.

Investigators were looking into online video that appeared to capture the scene right before the shooting began, Williams said.

A red dot that appears to be a laser pointer is visible on the chest of a player seconds before the first of a dozen gunshots rings out.

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."

The shooter was a gamer who was competing in the tournament and lost, according to Stephen "Steveyj" Javaruski, one of the competitors.

The shooter "targeted a few people" and shot several before killing himself, Javaruski told the Los Angeles Times in a direct message on Twitter.

Danny Flaherty, a 22-year-old gamer from the United Kingdom, said he heard gunshots and that his "only thoughts" afterward were "to run."

Marquis Williams, 28, and his girlfriend, Taylor Poindexter, 26, both of Chicago, were ordering pizza at the bar when they heard the gunfire. Williams said people trampled one another 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," said Williams, who participated in the tournament earlier.

Sujeil Lopez was at home in the Tampa Bay area in Florida when she got a call that her 25-year-old son, who plays video games professionally, had been shot.

"I have to get to him. I am four hours away from him, and I have to get to my son," Lopez said.

"He was shot three times, once on the nipple, once on his hand and somewhere else," Lopez said. She did not know his condition.

Ryan Aleman, who was at the bar, told CNN that he saw "at least six bodies on the floor" of people who had been shot.

The city was already reeling from another deadly shooting that occurred Friday, when one person was killed and two others were injured after a high school football game. Mayor Lenny Curry blamed that violence on youth gangs.

Witnesses who were near the scene of the shooting Sunday said people dropped to the ground or ran outside as the shots rang out. Police patrols -- in cars and on boats -- raced to the scene.

A video clip shared on social media showed the football video game Madden NFL 19 on a television screen.

Someone playing as the Atlanta Falcons appeared to have scored and was kicking off. Tournament commentators remarked that the players were so good that it would not be easy to knock anyone out of the tournament.

Then the sound of gunfire begins. Several shots can be heard, one after another.

Then as the shots sound, commenters repeatedly say, "Oh, my God."

"Is there a shooting?" a viewer asked.

"That's a gun," said another.

The video then cut off.

The sheriff's office used Twitter and Facebook to warn people to stay away and to ask anyone who was hiding to call 911.

Police barricaded a three-block radius around the mall. Officers and Coast Guard boats patrolled the nearby river. Many ambulances could be seen in the area, but the mall area appeared empty of all but law enforcement officers. Police also took up positions on a bridge overlooking the river.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attack and that the White House was monitoring the situation.

Gun-control advocates seized on the moment Sunday to call for action against gun violence.

"My thoughts are with everyone impacted by the shooting today at the Jacksonville Landing - but thoughts are not enough," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Twitter. "As we continue to track developments, it's clear Congress must stop stalling & act to protect Americans from the daily tragedy of gun violence."

David Hogg, a survivor of a school shooting in Parkland, Fla., in February that killed 17 people, said in a tweet to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., "How many mass shootings in your state will it take for you to do something?"

National Rifle Association spokesman Dana Loesch, meanwhile, called for an end to "gun free zones" and said security should be in place to keep people safe.

The Jacksonville Landing, in the heart of the city's downtown area, also hosts concerts and other forms of entertainment. It was the site of a Trump rally in 2015, early in his campaign for the White House.

Information for this article was contributed by Russ Bynum, Brendan Farrington and Laura Heald of The Associated Press; by Alan Blinder, Christopher Mele and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times; by Kristine Phillips, Alex Horton, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Mark Berman, Travis Lyles and Abby Ohlheiser of The Washington Post; and by Matt Pearce, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Eric Sondheimer of the Los Angeles Times.

A Section on 08/27/2018