Investigators: Video game tournament shooter was a competitor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Officials believe the gunman in a mass shooting at a Madden video game tournament Sunday was 24-year old David Katz, of Baltimore, Maryland, a participant in the competition who had previously won regional tournaments for the football game.

The shooting, which killed two people and injured about a dozen more, occurred at the Jacksonville Landing complex during a qualifying event for the Madden 19 Tournament at the GLHF Game Bar. The Landing is an open-air marketplace with stores, bars and restaurants in downtown Jacksonville along the St. Johns River.

Officials say Katz took his own life at the scene of the shooting, raising the death toll to three. Katz, who was in town to participate in the competition used at least one handgun in the shooting, the sheriff said.

In a February 2017 tweet from the Buffalo Bills, the NFL team congratulated Katz for winning a regional contest. Katz is pictured holding up a jersey with the name "Madden Champ."

In an online stream of the Madden event posted to the website Twitch, several loud gunshots can be heard and the game abruptly stops.

After several shots ring out, people can be heard screaming, and one person cries out, "Oh f**, what'd he shoot me with?" The stream did not show the shooting.

The event was the Southeastern Qualifier for the Madden NFL Championship Series for Madden NFL 19, according to the bar's Facebook page.

"This is your chance to earn your spot in the first Major's Live Finals happening in October 2018. Don't hesitate to secure your spot," the post read in part.

'I'm still shocked'

Ryen Alemon, who came from Texas to participate in the gaming tournament, said he ducked down and ran toward the restroom when he heard the gunshots. He stayed there for about 10 minutes and then ran from the scene.

"I'm still shocked, I can hardly talk," he said.

Sheriff Williams said the area had been cleared of witnesses and asked that people do not come downtown because of the size of the crime scene.

Malik Brunson said he was at a nearby Hooters restaurant when the shooting occurred.

"All I heard was he got a gun and the shooting started. One of the men ran into Hooters with the shot wounds, they locked us in the restaurant," he said in a social media message.

CompLexity Gaming Founder and CEO Jason Lake said one of their gamers, a 19-year-old who goes by Drini, was shot in the thumb but managed to escape and is going to be fine. Lake told CNN that the shooting may make the growing eSports industry reconsider security at events.

"To have someone walk into an event like this that's all about good sportsmanship and teamwork and just good vibes, and do something like this, it's heartbreaking," he said. "I think the eSports industry as a whole is going to have to step back and take a look at further strengthening our security."

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the situation, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said. Gov. Rick Scott said he spoke to President Trump, who offered federal resources.

"The nation once again looks to Florida with grief and heavy hearts," former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously wounded in a mass shooting, said in a statement.

"The massacre in Jacksonville is a tragic reminder of the threats we face from gun violence, no matter who we are or where our day takes us," said Giffords, who co-founded a gun violence prevention organization. "And it's yet another devastating indictment of this country's inability to keep our kids safe."