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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Police seeking motive in Florida shooting that left two dead

The gunman and two believed victims were killed at the video game tournament 

A Jacksonville Sheriff officer helps keep the perimeter secure as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar at the Jacksonville Landing. AFP
A Jacksonville Sheriff officer helps keep the perimeter secure as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar at the Jacksonville Landing. AFP

Police on Monday were trying to determine why a gunman opened fire at a Florida video game tournament, killing two people and injuring 11 others before fatally shooting himself.

The Sunday shooting in Jacksonville immediately became an issue in Florida primary elections set for Tuesday when voters choose candidates for governor and the US House of Representatives. Some Democrats called for stricter gun laws while other candidates cancelled events.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office identified the shooter as David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, and said they found his body near those of his two alleged victims at The Landing, a popular riverside shopping and dining location. The shooting broke out during a regional qualifier for the Madden 19 online football game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar and witnesses told local media Katz was angry because he lost the tournament.

It was not clear if Katz knew his victims.

Local media identified the dead victims as Eli Clayton, 22, of Woodland Hills, California, and Taylor Robertson, 27, of Ballard, West Virginia. Both had been competitors in the tournament, local media reported, citing family of the victims.

Robertson, a husband and father, won the tournament last year and Katz won it the year before, the Miami Herald reported, citing family and friends posting on the Internet.

The Jacksonville Sheriff's office said nine people were wounded by gunfire and at least two others were injured while fleeing the scene. Officials did not respond to calls seeking updated information on Monday.

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Six months ago, 17 students and educators were gunned down at a high school in Florida’s Parkland, an incident that inflamed the United States' long running debate over gun rights.

In 2016 a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, in the second-deadliest shooting by a single gunman in US history.

The Sunday attack drew immediate statements from two Democratic candidates for governor - former US Representative Gwen Graham and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

"We need to end these mass shootings - and the only way to do that is to vote out the politicians complicit in this cycle of death", Graham said in a tweet on Sunday. Levine sounded a similar note, saying, "It's time for new leaders."

Graham and Levine are seeking the office currently held by Republican Governor Rick Scott, who in turn is challenging Democratic US Senator Bill Nelson.

The leading contenders for the Republican nomination for governor, US Representative Ron DeSantis and state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, cancelled campaign events and urged cooperation with law enforcement.

The bar was livestreaming the gaming competition when the gunfire started, according to video shared on social media. In the video, players can be seen reacting to the shots and cries can be heard before the footage cuts off.

Taylor Poindexter and her boyfriend, Marquis Williams, who had travelled from Chicago to attend the tournament, fled when the gunfire erupted. She said she saw Katz take aim at his victims.

"We did see him, two hands on the gun, walking back, just popping rounds," Poindexter told reporters. "I was scared for my life and my boyfriend's."

Another gamer, Chris "Dubby" McFarland, was hospitalized after a bullet grazed his head. "I feel fine, just a scratch on my head. Traumatized and devastated," he wrote on Twitter.

Jacksonville Memorial Hospital is treating three people wounded in the attack, said spokesman Peter Moberg. All were listed in good condition and one was expected to be discharged later on Monday, he said.

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