JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The first time Jordan Williams, a 23-year-old Hooters worker, saw Timothy Anselmo, a 25-year-old professional gamer, Anselmo was running away from the mass shooting at the Jacksonville Landing on Sunday.
Anselmo had been shot three times. Williams grabbed the bleeding stranger and hid him in the kitchen, placing pressure on his wounds and trying to calm him until paramedics arrived.
After Anselmo was loaded in the ambulance, the men thought of each other, wondering if they’d meet again. On Monday, they reunited in Anselmo’s hospital room. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution connected them at the request of Anselmo’s grandmother, who’d been desperate to thank the young man.
Williams spent hours with the Anselmos, getting to know the victim who’d just come out of surgery. “Brothers for life,” Williams said. “The family says I’m family for life.”
Jordan Williams, left, reunites with Timothy Anselmo, who Williams helped during the Jacksonville Landing shooting, during which Anselmo was shot three times. (Photo courtesy Timothy Anselmo)
Anselmo was one of 12 people shot during a “Madden NFL 19” event on Sunday. Two died at the scene, 10 were taken to hospitals for treatment and one other person was treated for a non-gunshot injury, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said during a news conference. He did not include gunman David Katz, who turned the gun on himself, in his count.
“He is not a victim, he is the suspect in this case,” Willliams said. Katz, of Baltimore, was 24.
A high school graduate who went to the University of Maryland but didn’t finish, Katz had been hospitalized for mental illness and prescribed antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs, The Associated Press reported, citing his parents’ divorce records. As an adolescent, Katz would play video games “obsessively,” sometimes refusing to take a bath or go to school, records show.
“When I took his gaming equipment controllers away so he couldn’t play at 3 or 4 in the morning, I’d get up and find that he was just walking around the house in circles,” said his mother, Elizabeth Katz, according to a court transcript. When she took away his video game equipment once, he punched a hole in the door, she said. She and Katz’ father are fully cooperating with the investigation but have not commented publicly.
Katz was armed with a .45-caliber and a 9mm, both of which he bought recently in Baltimore, Williams said.
“He legally purchased the firearms from a licensed dealer,” he said.
While officials have yet to specify a motive, Katz “clearly targeted other gamers,” Williams said. “The suspect walked past patrons who were in other parts of the business and focused his attention on the gamers.”
Including Anselmo. He posted a photo on Twitter of himself and Williams, the restaurant worker who rushed to his aid. “Jordan Williams, You Are My Hero,” Anselmo posted. “You Helped Save My Life.”
Williams deserves a raise from Hooters, his social-media admirers say, but he’s been quick to brush off the hero talk.
He picked up first-aid skills from his mom and sister, who are nurses, and once helped a friend who’d been shot. When chaos erupted at the Landing, Williams felt a strange calm wash over him. He helped lock down the restaurant, had the waitresses hide in an office and stayed at Anselmo’s side in the kitchen, pressing cloth to the wounds on his chest, hip and hand.
“I’m just happy I was able to help,” Williams said.
He was happy to see Anselmo again, especially to see with his own eyes that, though the hand injury could halt his gaming career, the man in the hospital bed was alive.
The moment Anselmo saw Williams, he broke into tears.