A sore loser opened fire on his fellow videogamers at a “Madden” football tournament Sunday in Florida, killing two as the horror played out live online, reports and officials said.
Just before the first of a dozen shots rang out around 1:30 p.m., video footage caught a red-laser dot creeping up a player’s torso at the GLHF Game Bar in the Jacksonville Landing open-air mall.
The camera then cut away from the players as screams filled the background and one of the gamer’s controllers abruptly disconnected.
“Oh f–k! What did he shoot me with?” one victim can be heard yelling between shots in the clip, which didn’t capture video of the carnage.
Warning: Disturbing audio
By the time gunman David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, Md., ended his rampage, two people were dead, nine were wounded and another two injured while escaping, according to authorities.
Katz fatally shot himself with his semiautomatic handgun afterward.
The shooter snapped and began targeting rivals after losing his match, fellow gamer Steven “Steveyj” Javaurski told the Los Angeles Times.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office frantically warned people to keep out of the area in a string of tweets chronicling the early minutes of the mayhem.
“Mass shooting at the Jacksonville Landing. Stay far away from the area,” read the first tweet at 2:13 p.m, roughly 45 minutes after initial social media reports of the shoot-up. “The area is not safe at this time. STAY AWAY.”
As cops set up a three-block perimeter around the riverfront mall and SWAT teams methodically swept through the blood-drenched gaming bar and pizzeria, officials urged terrified survivors to call 911 and stay hunkered down.
“We will get to you,” another tweet read. “Please don’t come running out.”
Once responders confirmed that the shooter was dead, they turned to triaging the more than one dozen victims, whom officials didn’t immediately name.
At least six victims were hospitalized, with one in stable condition and the other five stable, authorities said. They were between 20 and 35 years old.
It was unclear whether they included the two competitors seen in the clip that captured the start of the hellish assault: Wesley “Joe Rice” Gittens and Eli “Trueboy” Clayton, who was the target of the red laser dot.
At least two other gamers were reported among the wounded victims.
“The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng [sic] and never coming back,” tweeted 19-year-old competitor Drini “Young Drini” Gjoka. “I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb.
“Worst day of my life,” he added.
Fellow competitor Timothy “Olarry” Anselimo was also among the injured, according to his mother.
“My son was shot 3 times,” tweeted Sujeil Lopez. “Please keep him in your prayers.”
Jason Lake, the founder and CEO of CompLexity Gaming, for whom Young Drini plays, told CNN, “To have someone walk into an event like this that’s all about good sportsmanship and teamwork and just good vibes, and do something like this, it’s heartbreaking.”
“I think that the eSports industry as a whole is going to have to step back and take a look at further strengthening our security,” Lake said.
The sanctioned tournament in this year’s installment of the popular “Madden” NFL video game franchise offered $5,000 in prizes, with the top two finishers qualifying for spots in the Madden Classic Live Finals in Las Vegas.
“Today, this evening, and tonight, Jacksonville is mourning,” Mayor Lenny Curry said. “Pray for jacksonville as we deal with this senseless tragedy.”
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting, but no comment was immediately released by the White House.
Electronic Arts Inc EA, +2.27% , the maker of the popular “Madden” games, expressed its “deepest sympathies” to the victims.
This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.
— Electronic Arts (@EA) August 26, 2018