Mass shooting at ‘Madden’ esports tournament reported in Jacksonville
There was a mass shooting at a popular shopping and entertainment area in Jacksonville, Fla., early Sunday afternoon, authorities said.
The shooting occurred during an esports tournament in which gamers competed by playing “Madden NFL 2019.” Based on video from the incident, the players were broadcasting their performances on Twitch, a live-streaming platform, when the gunshots began.
The “Madden” tournament was being held at the GLHF Game Bar next to Chicago Pizza. The Jacksonville Landing, which is located along the St. Johns River, is home to restaurants, stores and live entertainment.
At a 4:30 p.m. press conference, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said that authorities had just finished clearing the area of potential witnesses and victims.
“We have no outstanding suspects at this time,” Williams said. “We have one suspect in this case. He is deceased at the scene at this point. He is a white male, and we are still working to confirm his identity.”
Before the press conference, however, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had urged the public to stay away from the area and said it was not safe.
In order to conduct a comprehensive search of the area, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office told every person hiding in locked areas around the Jacksonville Landing to stay in their places and to dial 911 so that officers can come and escort them to safety. They said it was very important that victims and innocent bystanders not start running out of their hiding places at this time.
Steven “Steveyj” Javaruski, one of the gamers, told the Los Angeles Times that the shooter was a competitor in the tournament who lost. Javaruski said he saw the the gunman kill two or three people before shooting himself.
EA Sports, the video game developer behind the “Madden” series, released statements on Twitter confirming that it is working with authorities to collect information.
“We are aware of an incident at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville. We are working with authorities to gather facts at this stage,” the statement from EA Sports reads. “This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.”
Williams said the Sheriff’s Office would release the number of victims killed and injured at another time.
Vic Micolucci, a news anchor for WJXT in Jacksonville, reported that, according to his sources, there were 15 victims in total and four were dead. The survivors were reportedly being transported to various hospitals.
Drini Gjoka, one of the gamers at the tournament, said on Twitter that he’s “literally so lucky” because the bullet hit his thumb. He said this has been the worst day of his life and that he will “never take anything for granted ever again” because life “can be cut short in a second.”
“If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. I LOVE ALL YOU GUYS,” he tweeted.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he has communicated with Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams and offered to support local law enforcement with any state resources they might need. He added that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is responding to the incident and that he has spoken with the department’s commissioner, Rick Swearingen.