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Gaming Industry Shocked After Deadly Shooting At Jacksonville Tournament


Investigators are continuing their search for clues in a deadly shooting that took place at an elite video game tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., over the weekend. Three people were killed, including the alleged gunman. They were all competitors at a Madden 19 football game competition, part of the hyper-competitive and increasingly lucrative world known as esports. NPR's Brakkton Booker reports on how this close-knit gaming community is reacting.

BRAKKTON BOOKER, BYLINE: Jacksonville sheriff Mike Williams said today, as bad as the shooting was, it could have been much worse. Emergency responders got to the scene two minutes after the first 911 call.


MIKE WILLIAMS: A video surveillance footage from inside the restaurant clearly shows that this is a single shooter incident and that the suspect took his own life after shooting the victims.

BOOKER: The normally bustling Jacksonville Landing, a local spot with eateries and shopping along the St. Johns River waterfront, remains closed today. A day earlier, a gunman fired off rounds here. Florida senator Bill Nelson laments his state is going through yet another tragedy associated with guns.


BILL NELSON: Well, I mean, how many more of these are we going to take? Florida's had its fill - you know, the Pulse nightclub, the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, now this.

BOOKER: He also mentioned the shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school earlier this year where 17 people were killed. Florida's latest tragedy unfolded at the gaming bar known as GHLF. It's an acronym for good luck, have fun. It was anything but that on Sunday.


UNIDENTIFIED ANNOUNCER: Joe Rice down seven-nothing after the first drive by Trueboy.

BOOKER: In the industry of highly competitive gaming known as esports, announcers give play-by-play just like a real-life game. This audio was broadcast live on the Internet on a platform popular with gamers known as Twitch. Eli Clayton, the player using the handle Trueboy, just scored a touchdown. Moments later, he was shot and killed. So was another player, Taylor Robertson, who used the handle Spotmeplzz. We won't play the gunshots here. But afterwards, it was chaos.


BOOKER: Twenty-eight-year-old Marquis Williams was in that commotion. It was his first time entering a tournament, and he got eliminated.

MARQUIS WILLIAMS: I didn't know the shooter. But we did see him after the first shot. Like, he was shooting into the area where the games were being played. And as he was shooting, he was clearly backing up.

BOOKER: Investigators have named the alleged shooter as 24-year-old David Katz. He's a well-known competitor who has won other tournaments. Today, law enforcement officials say Katz walked past spectators to target other competitors before taking his own life with one of two handguns he had with him. Authorities say those guns were purchased legally in his home state of Maryland. Williams, the gamer who saw the shooter, says he'll take a little time off before he enters another tournament.

WILLIAMS: I would enter other competitions, but security has to be very, very tight - I mean, airport-security tight.

BOOKER: The idea of beefing up security at these events is nothing new. Rod Breslau is a journalist who has been reporting on esports for the better part of two decades.

ROD BRESLAU: I would say overall the feeling within the competitive gaming and esports community is that, yes, there does need to be better security at these events.

BOOKER: Breslau says he hopes the public does not blame video games or those who play them for the reasons why this tragedy took place. Brakkton Booker, NPR News, Jacksonville. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.