Sheriff identifies 2 men killed at Jacksonville gaming tournament

By  | 

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — The Latest on a deadly mass shooting at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida (all times local):

Shooting in Jacksonville Landing entertainment marketplace, Photo Date: 8/26/2018 / (MGN)

4:25 p.m.

Authorities have released the names of two men killed in a shooting rampage at a video game tournament in Florida.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office identified the victims Monday as 22-year-old Elijah Clayton of Woodland Hills, California, and 28-year-old Taylor Robertson of Giles, West Virginia.

Relatives of Clayton read a statement to reporters in Jacksonville. A cousin, Brandi Pettijohn, said the family was "devastated by yet another senseless act of gun violence." She said Clayton "did not believe in violence."

"He never even had a fistfight."

Pettijohn said Clayton made a good living playing in video game tournaments and was saving money for college.

Sheriff Mike Williams said 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore specifically targeted fellow gamers attending the tournament before killing himself. Katz's motive remains unknown.


4 p.m.

Investigators say the suspect in a deadly shooting at a Florida video game tournament specifically targeted other gamers.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said during a news conference Monday that video surveillance of the shooting shows 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore walk past other patrons at a pizzeria and head to a back room where the tournament is being hosted before he opens fire.

Authorities say Katz killed two people and wounded 10 others before fatally shooting himself Sunday at the "Madden NFL 19" tournament being held at a riverfront mall. They say one person was treated for a "non-gunshot-related" injury.

Williams says the wounded victims are all expected to recover.

Officials haven't released a motive for the shooting.

Williams says Katz carried two guns during the shooting but appears to have only fired one. Investigators say the guns were purchased legally in Baltimore from a licensed dealer.


3:45 p.m.

Court records obtained by The Associated Press show that a man accused of killing two people and then himself at a video gaming competition in Florida had been hospitalized for mental illness.

Divorce filings from the parents of 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore say that as a teenager he was twice hospitalized in psychiatric facilities and that he was prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications.

The records show Katz's parents disagreed deeply on how to care for their troubled son. Katz's father claimed his estranged wife was exaggerating symptoms of mental illness as part of the couple's long-running and acrimonious custody battle. They divorced in 2007.

Authorities say Katz killed two people and wounded nine others Sunday before fatally shooting himself at the "Madden NFL 19" tournament in Jacksonville.


The suspect in a deadly shooting at a Florida video game tournament was known to barely speak to fellow gamers and sometimes exhibited an erratic playing style, according to other competitors, who were baffled that their virtual sport could lead to bloodshed.

Authorities say 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore killed two people and wounded nine others before fatally shooting himself Sunday at the "Madden NFL 19" tournament being held at a riverfront mall in Jacksonville.

"It just doesn't make sense why he would do it," gamer Shay Kivlen, 21, of Seattle, said Monday in an interview. "In 'Madden,' you never get so mad at a loss that you would want to do that."

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams has declined to comment on what motivated Katz to open fire inside a gaming bar connected to a pizzeria at The Jacksonville Landing, a collection of restaurants and shops along the St. Johns River. Williams said he used at least one handgun in the attack.


Such tournaments can involve high stakes. The Jacksonville tournament had $5,000 in prize money to divide among the top finalists. Kivlen said some gamers rely on that money to make ends meet.

But Kivlen and other competitors insisted most players take losses in stride and, even with cash on the line, still view it as being just a game.

"No one deserves to die over playing a videogame, you know?" said Derek Jones, 30, who traveled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to compete in Jacksonville. "We're just out here trying to win some money for our families and stuff."

The game's maker, EA Sports, lists a David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.

Jones said he was sitting on a back patio outside the tournament venue when he heard the gunshots. He jumped a fence and ran, leaving behind his backpack and cellphone.

"You know, I'm glad I lost today," Jones said. "Because if I'd won, I would have been in that game bar right then playing a game and not paying attention. And he could have come, and I'd probably be dead right now."

Jones said he knew Katz by the gamer tags he used online — often "Bread" or "Sliced Bread" — and had played against him but had never spoken to him personally. Kivlen said that even when Katz showed up at in-person competitions, he never seemed to socialize and would brush off attempts at conversation.

"We've always known he was a little off and stuff just because he wasn't social at all," Kivlen said, adding that Katz's odd behavior extended to his game play.

"He would do kind of weird stuff online that other people wouldn't do. He would catch a ball and just start jumping out of bounds and stuff when he could have gotten more yards, just hurting himself. I don't know what he was doing."

Kivlen, who said he had once beaten Katz for a coveted spot in a tournament, heard secondhand from a friend that Katz had been asking where Kivlen had gone shortly before the shooting.

After losing his single-elimination game Sunday, Kivlen said, he left to take a nap at his hotel about 20 minutes before the attack. He was watching a live stream of the tournament online when the gunfire erupted.

A friend hiding in a bathroom at the venue answered his phone. When he said Kivlen may have been a target, Kivlen called police and an officer was sent to his hotel room for about 90 minutes until they received word that the gunman was dead.

Nine other people wounded by the gunfire were all in stable condition Sunday after being taken to hospitals. Two others were injured in the rush to flee the gunfire, Williams said.

Investigators were looking into an 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 about a dozen gunshots rings out.

On Sunday evening, the FBI searched the suspect's home. Heavily armed agents, some in bulletproof vests, could be seen entering the upscale townhome complex near Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Agency spokesman Dave Fitz confirmed that agents went to the house of the man's father in Baltimore. He declined to release details.


Associated Press writers Brendon Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida, and Tamara Lush in the Tampa area contributed to this report.

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus