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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Three dead including gunman at Florida video gaming tournament 

Shooter named as David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, who was in Jacksonville for the competition

A video gamer killed two people and wounded several others on Sunday when he fired a handgun at a tournament that was being streamed online from a restaurant in Jacksonville, Florida, police said.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams named the shooter as David Katz, 24, of Baltimore and said he was in town for the competition. He declined to comment on what led to the third mass shooting in Florida in the past two years.

Mr Williams said Katz killed himself after the shootings and that his body was found along with those of his victims. He said nine people were wounded by gunfire, and at least two others were injured while fleeing the scene.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, right, briefs the press after the shooting. AP Photo
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, right, briefs the press after the shooting. AP Photo

Dozens of ambulances and police cars flooded into The Jacksonville Landing, a waterfront dining, entertainment and shopping area in the centre of the city, after several shots rang out on Sunday afternoon.

The shooting took place during a regional qualifier for the Madden 19 online game tournament at the GLHF Game Bar inside a Chicago Pizza restaurant, according to the venue’s website.

Police boats patrol the St Johns River at The Jacksonville Landing. Will Dickey / The Florida Times-Union via AP
Police boats patrol the St Johns River at The Jacksonville Landing. Will Dickey / The Florida Times-Union via AP

The bar was live-streaming the football video game competition when the shootings began. 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, had travelled from Chicago for the tournament, and they fled when the gunfire erupted. She said she saw Katz take aim at his victims.

Taylor Poindexter speaks to reporters after witnessing a gunman open fire on gamers. Reuters
Taylor Poindexter speaks to reporters after witnessing a gunman open fire on gamers. Reuters

“We did see him, two hands on the gun, walking back, just popping rounds,” Ms Poindexter said. “I was scared for my life and my boyfriend’s.”

One Twitter user, Drini Gjoka, said he was taking part in the tournament and was shot in the thumb.

“Worst day of my life,” Mr Gjoka wrote on Twitter. “I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second.”

Another gamer, Chris "Dubby" McFarland, was taken to hospital after a bullet grazed his head. “I feel fine, just a scratch on my head. Traumatised and devastated,” he wrote on Twitter.

Local media said the shooter had been competing in the tournament and lost, then targeted other players before killing himself.

The Baltimore Sun reported that federal authorities were conducting inquiries at a home in South Baltimore in connection with the investigation.

A Baltimore City police spokesman, TJ Smith, said the department was assisting partner law enforcement agencies with information that led them to Baltimore.

The latest shooting occurred amid a debate over US gun laws that was given fresh impetus by the massacre in February of 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

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Survivors of that massacre expressed sorrow at news of another shooting in the state.

“Once again, my heart hurts and all of me is so angry. We cannot accept this as our reality,” Delaney Tarr, one of the organisers of the student-led March for Our Lives movement, tweeted.

Two years ago a gunman killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.

The sheriff’s office said many people were transported to hospital, and its deputies found many others hiding in locked areas at The Landing.

Six victims were taken to Jacksonville’s UF Health Hospital, where staff said five of them were quickly stabilised but one was in a serious condition.

A spokesman for Jacksonville’s Memorial Hospital said it was treating three victims, all of whom were in a stable condition.

Jacksonville, on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, is about 56 kilometres south of the Georgia state line.

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Florida governor Rick Scott, a Republican, said he had offered to provide local authorities with any state resources they might need.

Democratic senior senator for Florida Bill Nelson said: "Word of another tragic mass shooting in our state brings shock and outrage.”

President Donald Trump has been briefed and is monitoring the situation in Jacksonville, the White House said.

Reacting to news of the shooting during the tournament involving its Madden 19 game, maker Electronic Arts said it was working with authorities to gather facts.

“This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved,” the company said on Twitter.

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