Jacksonville shooting: Gamers targeted in deadly attack at Madden tournament, sheriff says

A shooter killed two people before taking his own life Sunday during a video game tournament at a popular riverfront destination in in Jacksonville, according to investigators.

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Update 5:07 a.m. EDT Aug. 28: The chief executive officer for Electronic Arts, known as EA, announced Monday night that the remaining Madden events have been canceled in the aftermath of the mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday.

"The event was a qualifying tournament for the Madden Classic, our first Madden EA Major competition of this season. While these qualifying events are operated independently by partners, we work with them to ensure competitive integrity and to gather feedback from players. We have made a decision to cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators," Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA, announced Monday. "We will work with our partners and our internal teams to establish a consistent level of security at all of our competitive gaming events."

The statement continued: "Their love of competition was evident through their participation in our events over the past few years. We are committed to supporting Taylor and Elijah’s families through this difficult time, and we send our deepest sympathies to their loved ones, to those injured yesterday, and everyone affected.”

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Update 4:05 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: The family of Eli Clayton, one of the two competitors killed Sunday in a shooting during the "Madden 19 NFL Classic," in Jacksonville, thanked supporters and asked for privacy as they mourn the 22-year-old.

“We are devastated by yet another senseless act of gun violence,” Clayton’s cousin, Brandi Pettijohn, said in a family statement read Monday for reporters. “Every person who has stood in this position has said that they never thought that this would happen to their family and we are no different.”

Clayton is survived by a large family, including six brothers, three sisters, his parents and his stepparents.

“Elijah’s family wants you to know that he was a good man,” Pettijohn said. “He did not believe in violence -- he never even had a fist fight. He loved football, and out of all the video games he could play, he settled (on) and mastered Madden.”

Pettijohn said Clayton participated in video game competitions to save money for college.

“My cousin has to bury her firstborn and it is just as terrible as that sounds,” she said.

Two people, including Clayton, were killed in Sunday's shooting and  10 others were wounded in the gunfire. A 13th victim sustained injuries not related to the gunfire, investigators said. Family members told WJAX that Taylor Robertson, 27, was also killed in the attack.

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: At a news conference Monday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said authorities continue to search for a motive in Sunday's deadly shooting.

Williams said authorities are investigating reports that David Katz, 24, was upset after losing in the “Madden 19 NFL Classic” competition.

“(There’s) lots of conversation about that,” Williams said. “We have yet to have a concrete motive.”

Officials said 13 people were injured in Sunday's attack, including two gamers who were killed in the shooting. Family members identified the slain competitors to WJAX as Eli Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 27.

Authorities said surveillance footage taken from the scene showed only one shooter carried out Sunday’s attack. Officials said Katz shot and killed himself during Sunday’s incident.

“All of the other shooting victims are expected to recover from their injuries,” Williams said. “As bad as this is, it could have been much worse.”

Katz had two handguns and extra ammunition on him during Sunday’s shooting, but Williams said surveillance footage indicated that he only fired one of the guns. Investigators believe he bought the guns legally from a dealer in his hometown of Baltimore.

He specifically targeted gamers who were part of the Madden 19 competition, walking past other patrons at Chicago Pizza before shooting, Williams said. The chief estimated that between 130 and 150 people were in the restaurant when the shooting started.

Charles Spencer, the special agent in charge of the FBI's Jacksonville Division, said authorities have been in contact with Katz’s parents in Baltimore, who have been cooperative in the ongoing investigation. Officials have seized items from Katz’s hotel room and vehicle, Williams said.

Authorities continue to investigate.

Update 2:55 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is expected to provide updates on the investigation into Sunday's shooting at a news conference Monday afternoon.

Update 2:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Doctors at UF Health Jacksonville told WJAX that four of the six people taken to the hospital as a result of Sunday's shooting have been released.

One of the patients suffered a severe hand injury, according to WJAX. He was undergoing surgery for a gunshot wound to repair the damage, the news station reported Monday.

Another patient had a bruised heart. That person was released Monday, WJAX reported.

Update 1:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: The shooting has led gamers to speak out about the need for more security at esports events.

“It’s very clear we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond,” Joy Cuellar, tournament director for the esports Evolution Championship Series, wrote in a tweet Sunday.

Organizers with the competition, which draws thousands of spectators, in March called the FBI after someone wrote online that there would be a mass shooting at the event. The tournament was held Aug. 3 to Aug. 5 in Las Vegas without any issue, according to The Associated Press.

“The amount of undercover law enforcement at Evo was unprecedented and we will be installing metal detectors for ALL days next year,” Cuellar wrote.

Sunday’s tournament in Jacksonville was being streamed on Twitch, a gaming live stream platform, when the sound of gunshots rang out. The director of Twitch’s esports programs, Cristian Tamas, said on Twitter that he was heartbroken to hear of Sunday’s deadly attack.

“Unfortunately, this was a matter of when not if,” Tamas wrote. “Esport event security, in general, has been extremely poor over the years, we should've stepped it up long ago.”

It was not immediately clear what kind of security measures were in place for Saturday's "Madden 19 NFL Classic," according to the AP. Derek Jones, a gamer who traveled from Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Jacksonville for the event, told the AP he saw no noticeable security at the tournament.

“I’ve been telling them this for a while, that you need to make the players feel safe,” Jones told the AP.

Update 1 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Dennis Alston, a New Jersey man known in the Madden competitive gaming circuit as "Evil Ken," told WJAX that he thought the man who opened fire during Sunday's Madden tournament in Jacksonville targeted players, but not necessarily those who beat him.

Alston told WJAX he tried to shake David Katz's hand after he beat the 24-year-old, but that Katz didn't respond.

“He just looked at me,” Alston said. “He didn’t say anything.”

He said he and another player beat Katz and “we’re both still here so, I felt like he was targeting but I don’t think it was the people that beat him.”

Later, Alston said he saw Katz fire as many as 10 shots.

"(He) pointed my way," Alston told WJAX. "I had to to cover."

He described Katz as a “well-known competitor” but added that he appeared to be acting strangely Sunday.

"He had shades on," Alston told WJAX. "He didn't speak to anybody."

Authorities said three people, including Katz, were killed and 11 others injured in Sunday’s attack.

>> On ActionNewsJax.com: Gamer who beat suspected Jacksonville shooter: 'It's stuff you see in movies'

Update 9 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Officials at Jacksonville's Memorial  Hospital have identified four people treated as a result of Sunday's shooting, WJAX reported.

Officials said David Echevarria, 28, was treated for minor injuries and released while three others remained hospitalized Monday in good condition.

George Amadeo II, 17, suffered unspecified injuries. Alexander Madunic, 27, was treated for a gunshot wound to his foot. Christoper McFarland, 31, was treated for a bullet graze to his head.

Two other people, identified by friends and family as Eli Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 27, were killed in Sunday’s shooting.

Update 11:52 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Competitors Eli Clayton and Taylor Robertson were fatally shot Sunday during a Madden 19 competition, the victims' families told WJAX.

While investigators have not released or confirmed the victims’ identities, friends and family are sharing their condolences on social media.

Clayton competed under the name "Trueboy," and Robertson used the name "SpotMePlzz."

Update 7:37 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: Two people were killed and nine others wounded by gunfire when David Katz opened fire Sunday afternoon during a video game competition, officials said. Katz killed himself in the melee.

Two other people were also sustained injuries but they were not gunshot wounds, Sheriff Mike Williams said.

Although witnesses have said he was angry about the tournament, Williams did not give a motive as to why Katz, 24, of Baltimore, started shooting.

Update 5:43 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: The shooter lost an intense game at the tournament, snapped, and started shooting, sources told WJAX.

The shooter, who has not been identified, died at the scene, investigators said.

Update 4:15 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: A Jacksonville area hospital confirmed that six patients were admitted from the shooting. One is in serious condition and five are in good condition, officials said.

Update 4:03 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: The Florida Highway Patrol has closed the Main Street Bridge, which leads to the Jacksonville Landing, to pedestrian traffic.

UF Health Jacksonville confirms: Six patients here. One serious condition, five good condition.

Update 3:52 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said that President Donald Trump had been briefed about the shooting and was monitoring the situation.

FHP now closing the Main St. Bridge to pedestrian traffic

Update 3:45 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: The Jacksonville Landing was live-streaming a tournament for the NFL computer game qualifying round when the shooting occurred. Organizers of the event said the average age of children in the tournament was 16.

Update 3:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 26: The shooting reportedly happened at Chicago Pizza during a Madden Tournament video gaming event, the Sheriff's Office said, and occurred at about 1:45 p.m.

Update 3:02 p.m. EDT Aug. 26The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said one suspect was dead at the scene. Authorities added that it was unknown whether there were other suspects.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.