Police barricade a street near Jacksonville Landing in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018.. (AP Photo/Laura Heald)

Competitor: No one deserves to die over playing a videogame

Florida authorities are reporting multiple fatalities after a mass shooting at the riverfront mall in Jacksonville that was hosting a video game tournament

Marquis Williams and Taylor Poindexter at first thought they heard a balloon popping. When the loud bangs kept coming, the Chicago couple and fellow video gamers attending a weekend tournament recognized them as gunfire and began scrambling for an exit.

As he fled, Williams, 28, said, he could see the back of the gunman’s head as the attacker appeared to be walking backward as he fired.

“We didn’t see like a face,” Poindexter, 26, told reporters a few hours after the attack, standing on crutches after spraining her ankle trying to escape. “We did see him with two hands on a gun, walking back just popping rounds.”

The couple said people trampled others in the panic to escape. They ran to a nearby restaurant, where workers were waving people inside, and hid in a bathroom until police arrived.

The deadly violence stunned gamers competing Sunday in Jacksonville during a “Madden NFL 19” video game tournament. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said the gunman killed two people and shot nine others before fatally shooting himself.

The competition was held in a gaming bar that shares space with a pizzeria. Viewers could watch the games online and see the players.

Williams said authorities believe 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. He said final confirmation of the suspect’s identity was pending as the FBI in Baltimore aided in the investigation.

The sheriff said Katz was attending the tournament in Florida. The “Madden” game’s maker, EA Sports, lists a David Katz as a 2017 championship winner.

Authorities did not give a motive for the shootings.

“No one deserves to die over playing a videogame, you know?” said “Madden” competitor Derek Jones, 30, of Santa Fe, New Mexico. “We’re just out here trying to win some money for our families and stuff.”

Related: ‘Multiple fatalities’ as mass shooting breaks out in Florida

Related: Trump refuses to address gun control following deadly Florida shooting

Jones said he was sitting in a back patio outside the tournament venue when he heard the gunshots Sunday. 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 online but had never spoken to him personally.

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

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.

Jason Lake, the founder and CEO of compLexity, a company that owns professional esports 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.”

On Sunday evening, the FBI said, its agents searched a family home of the man authorities believed was behind the attack.

Heavily armed agents, some in bulletproof vests and brandishing long guns, could be seen entering an upscale townhome complex near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.

An FBI spokesman, Dave Fitz, confirmed that agents had gone to the house of the man’s father in Baltimore. He declined to release specifics, citing the ongoing investigation. T.J. Smith, chief spokesman for the Baltimore Police Department, also said that the agency was assisting law enforcement partners “with some information that has led authorities to Baltimore.”

In Washington, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the attack and the White House was monitoring the situation.

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

Marquis Williams said the shooting rampage was another tragic sign that elected officials should take action to curb gun violence.

“Politicians, wake up because the people you’re supposed to be representing are dying,” Williams said. “Quit sitting on your butts. Quit collecting checks and do something.”

___

Farrington reported from Tallahassee, Florida. Associated Press Writer Tamara Lush contributed to this report from the Tampa area and Laura Heald from Jacksonville, Florida.

Russ Bynum And Brendan Farrington, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Quesnel Bikers have ridden 1,000 km in South Korea in 24 days

Chris and Heather Hartridge recently cycled the East Sea coastline

Runnin’ and Gunnin’ win Quesnel charity football tourney

Proceeds from the two-day tournament go to Royal Canadian Legion Branch 94

William Griffin arrested in Houston homicide

RCMP have now arrested William Griffin, the man wanted in connection to… Continue reading

Moving story of WWII veteran’s reluctant return to Juno Beach being performed Nov. 23 in Quesnel

Nov. 23 presentation of Jake’s Gift at Quesnel Legion is a dinner theatre performance

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read