A gunman has killed multiple people at a Madden esports competition in Jacksonville, Florida, today, according to local officials. Jacksonville sheriff Mike Williams briefly addressed the public at 4:30 p.m. Eastern time to confirm that law enforcement had cleared out The Landing event complex where the tournament took place. In an update at 7:30 Eastern, Williams said that investigators believe the shooter’s name is David Katz, 24, who is a white male from Baltimore, Maryland.
The Madden tournament was a qualifying round for the Madden NFL Championship Series, and it aired live on Twitch. During the broadcast, viewers could hear multiple gunshots shortly before the feed came to an end.
The Jacksonville sheriff’s department has confirmed that three people are dead and 11 are injured but in stable condition. The Associated Press claims that the suspect killed himself.
Electronic Arts, the publisher of the Madden games and the company who oversees the esports events, has posted a brief statement to Twitter.
“We are aware of an incident at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville,” reads the EA account’s tweet. “We are working with authorities to gather facts at this stage.”
The publisher followed that up at 3:19 p.m. Eastern with the following.
“This is a horrible situation,” reads EA’s statement. “And our deepest sympathies go out to all involved.”
Finally, late in the evening, EA sent out its final public comment of the night.
“The tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn. Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured.
All of us at Electronic Arts are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene.
Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue their investigation into this crime.”
In an internal statement sent to all EA employees, chief executive officer Andrew Wilson confirmed that three EA employees were at the event but they are uninjured.
Players from the tournament are also sharing their experience from the event. One player claims a bullet hit his thumb.
I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb
— Drini Gjoka (@YoungDrini) August 26, 2018
Another says that police escorted him out.
I got out. Police escorted me. I’m done going to any Madden events not EA Majors with security.
— Noble SteveyJ (@ImSteveyJ) August 26, 2018
I’ve reached out to EA for more information, and I’ll update this post if it provides any new details.
This is a scenario that the gaming industry has always known was possible. The Electronic Entertainment Expo trade show in Los Angeles in June had notoriously lengthy lines for many of its events because of meticulous security. Publishers like Microsoft, Electronic Arts, and others knew the risk and used metal detectors and other tools to avoid a tragedy like the one in Jacksonville today.
Gaming is an event-heavy business. Nearly 100,000 people will come together in Seattle for the PAX West fan gathering next weekend. Thousands more were just in Austin for Rooster Teeth’s RTX expo at the beginning of August. Sony holds an annual fan celebration in December each year. And then, there are dozens of esports tournaments of varying sizes.
Publishers, esports organizers, and fan-event companies will all have to look to Jacksonville and be able to explain what they are doing to prevent something like that in the future.
Update 1 at 4:45 p.m. Pacific time with details on suspected shooter’s identity.
Update 2 at 8:30 p.m. Pacific time with details from Electronic Arts.