ORLANDO, Fla. – On Monday, the gaming community is healing after two of its own were killed in a Jacksonville shooting during an esports tournament for the "Madden NFL 19" game.
Madden gamer maker, EA sports, headquartered in Maitland, released the following statement:
"The tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn. Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured. All of us at Electronic Arts are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene. Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue their investigation into this crime."
Meanwhile, local gamers are directly affected by the tragedy after authorities say David Katz, 24, opened fire on a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition inside GLHF Game Bar and the Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing. Eleven people were injured and three died, including the gunman.
"Those people were just going there to have fun and it really breaks my hearts to see that," said Central Florida gamer Rob Davis.
EA Sports, lists Katz as a 2017 Madden championship winner.
"To have it all ruined in one second by someone who just went over the edge, for whatever reason, it doesn’t really matter, that’s absolutely horrible," said Davis.
Davis is like many gamers shedding light on how big the gaming industry is. He said gamers can make good money and develop their passion into a career.
"There could be anywhere from thousands, to millions, maybe even billions of dollars on the line just for the companies let alone the competitors," she said.
Bilal Almashni, a professional gamer, plays for the Orlando Magic Gaming Team.
"All kids love video games and I love basketball so it was just all wrapped in one dream come true," said Almashni.
He said he's turned his passion into a career.
"Growing up from Chicago playing video games kind of kept me out of trouble and stuff," said Almashni.
Almashni said learning about the tragedy in Jacksonville was devastating and it hit close to home.
"One of my personal friends Larry, he’s a 2K League player, he was also there he got shot three times," said Almashni, talking about the eSports NBA league.
His friend had surgery Monday, but is expected to be OK.
"It’s tough man. You think playing video games you’ll be safe," said Almashni.