Florida shooting: Video gamers killed by rival at tournament

GLHF game bar
The incident took place in a games bar attached to a restaurant

Two professional video gamers have been named by US media as the victims of a rival player in a shooting at an eSports tournament in Florida.

Eli Clayton, 21, and Taylor Robertson, 27, were both well-known players of the Madden NFL American football game.

Police say David Katz, 24, from Baltimore, carried out the attack at the Jacksonville Landing shopping and entertainment complex on Sunday.

Unconfirmed reports say Katz had become angry after losing a match.

Florida has seen several mass shootings in recent years, including at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016, when 49 people died, and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland in February this year, when 17 people were killed.

Although the two gamers have not yet been officially named, tributes have been paid to them on social media:

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Both had been competing at the Madden NFL 19 event at the GLHF Game Bar, attached to Chicago Pizza in Jacksonville Landing when the shooting erupted on Sunday afternoon.

Eli, or Elijah, Clayton was known by the handle Trueboy. He had played football at two of his high schools and was seen as a rising star in the increasingly lucrative eSports field.

Taylor Robertson, who took the handle SpotMePlzzz, was also a successful eSports player, having won the Madden 17 Classic. His Twitter feed lists him as a father, husband and pro-Madden player for DotCityGaming.

One of the leading Madden players, Hassan (Gos) Spall, tweeted a tribute:

EA Sports, the company that owns Madden and approved the competition, told the BBC it was “devastated by this horrific event… a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn”.

It sent its heartfelt sympathies to the families of the victims.

People fled for shelter and Swat teams checked the area.

The body of Katz was then found with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Police said they believed there were no accomplices.

The Jacksonville sheriff’s office said 11 more people had been wounded in the attack, with another two suffering other injuries as they fled.

David Katz, a well-known gamer, lived in Baltimore and had travelled to take part in the event.

He was the winner of at least one Madden championship, in 2017.

An announcer at a previous competition had said of Katz: “He is not here to make friends. He’s all business, he’s focused” and that getting him to talk about anything was like “pulling teeth”.

The FBI confirmed its agents had searched his family home in the Inner Harbor area of Baltimore on Sunday evening and had spoken to relatives.

Drini Gjoka, a 19-year-old player taking part, described the shooting in a series of posts on Twitter, calling it “the worst day of [his] life”.

Another competitor Chris “Dubby” McFarland said a bullet had grazed his head.

Taylor Poindexter from Chicago said she saw the gunman taking aim at people in the room.

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

Madden competitor Derek Jones told Associated Press news agency: “I’m glad I lost today. Because if I’d won, I would have been in that game bar right then playing a game and not paying attention. And he could have come and I’d probably be dead right now.”

The event was a Madden NFL 19 qualifier, with a $5,000 (£3,900) top prize.

The leading players would progress to a Madden Classic round of 16 in Las Vegas in October.

Those who make it to the overall finals would play for a share of a $165,000 pool.

Successful eSports players can win lucrative endorsements, earn money from video streaming and play for thousands of dollars in prizes.

The shooting has already sparked calls for greater security at eSports events.

Source: bbc.co.uk

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