89ºF

Gunman kills 2, himself, at Madden gaming tournament in Jacksonville, sheriff says

Sheriff says suspect was from out of state for Madden 19 competition

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A gunman opened fire during a gaming tournament in downtown Jacksonville Sunday, killing two, and then turning the weapon on himself, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. 

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said at 1:34 p.m. 911 calls started coming in after a gunman opened fire on a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition inside GLHF Game Bar and the Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing. Two minutes later authorities were on scene and evacuating the Landing.

Williams said three people were found dead in the Chicago Pizza, including the suspect. Nine people were taken to Memorial Hospital and UF Health Medical Center with gunshot wounds. Two other people took themselves to the hospital, the sheriff said. All victims are in stable condition.

Officials from UF Health Medical Center said they received six victims of the shooting. They said five are in stable condition while one is in serious condition. Three were shot more than once.

The victims' ages range from 20 to 35 years of age.

Williams identified the suspected gunman as David Katz, 24, a gamer in the Madden 19 tournament. Katz was from out of state, but stayed in the Jacksonville area the night before the shooting, Williams said.

According to the Baltimore Sun, federal authorities were at a Baltimore-area home Sunday evening as part of the shooting investigation.

The shooting occurred at the Jacksonville Landing, a riverfront mall and event space. Williams said the scene has been secured and SWAT teams found no additional gunmen.

According to a news release, the NFL Madden 19 Championship Series is a partnership between Electronic Arts Inc. (EA Sports), the NFL and ESPN. Sunday's event was the southeast qualifying round for the tournament. EA Sports confirmed the shooting happened during a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened by the horrific tragedy today in Jacksonville," the NFL said in a statement. "Our hearts go out to all those affected. We are grateful for the first responders immediately at the scene. We support our partners at EA Sports and will continue to monitor developments with local law enforcement."

The prize pool for the Madden 19 Championship was $700,000, according to the NFL.

The games maker, EA Sports, lists Katz as a 2017 championship winner.

During an online stream of the event posted to the video game streaming website Twitch, loud gunshots can be heard before the game suddenly stops. Williams said investigators are aware of the video and they are seeking any additional footage of the shooting to help with the investigation.

Twenty-year-old Marquis Williams said he and his girlfriend, Taylor Poindexter, of Chicago, were ordering pizza close by when shots erupted. He said Sunday that he didn't think it was gunfire at first.

"Initially we thought it was a balloon popping, but there weren't any balloons in the room," he said. "Then we heard repeat shots and we took off running."

The Sheriff's Office said the Family Assistance Center is at the Prime Osborne Center at 1000 Water St. It is for family members only.

In the wake of the shooting, deputies told anyone hiding at the Jacksonville Landing to stay calm. The Sheriff's Office later cleared the building, but still asked people to stay away from the area Sunday night.

This is a developing story. Stay with News 6 for updates. 


About the Authors: