Gamers mourn Jacksonville shooting victims as Madden tournament turns to tragedy

On Sunday, August 26, a shooting was reported at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida. It was the first of four tournaments for the popular football game, where players compete for a chance to win a $200,000 prize and the champion title at the Madden Bowl. What initially started as an opportunity for a group of passionate competitive gamers turned into nine hospitalizations and three fatalities. One of the fatalities included David Katz, an eliminated tournament competitor now identified as the shooter.

Before the tragedy took place, two players can be seen on the event’s Twitch stream, Eli “TrueBoy” Clayton and Wesley “Joe Rice” Gittens, as they are playing a game of Madden. Suddenly, several gunshots can be heard in the background and briefly, Clayton is seen targeted by a laser sight before gameplay is interrupted and replaced with a screen that reads, “Controller disconnected.” Shots continue to fire among frantic shuffling and screaming as a man can be distinctly heard yelling, “What did he shoot me with?” The stream footage of the shooting was taken down by Twitch, though screencaps and clips are still circulating social media.

Eli “TrueBoy” Clayton (left) and Taylor “SpotMeplzzz” Robertson (right)

Respected and beloved competitors in the Madden scene, Eli “TrueBoy” Clayton and Taylor “SpotMeplzzz” Robertson were both targeted and killed by Katz right before he took his own life. Police have not yet released a motive, but the LA Times reported that Katz was, in fact, a competitor who lost at the tournament. Records obtained by the Associated Press also show Katz has had a history of being hospitalized for mental illness, as well as prescriptions for anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications. 

Following the news of the shooting, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson announced in a letter to the gaming community that the remaining Madden qualifier events have been canceled to review safety protocols for future esports tournaments. He went on to explain that qualifier events are usually handled independently by partners and EA works alongside them using the feedback from players to “ensure competitive integrity”. Now changes will be made to establish a consistent level of security as well.

There’s been an outpouring of support from the gaming community. An official GoFundMe called Madden Fallen Angels was created to help support the families of the victims. The hashtags #JacksonvilleStrong and #PrayforJacksonville on Twitter are flooded with esports gamers, gaming personalities, developers, journalists, and more paying their respects to Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson. Many have also been discussing the ways we can prevent tragedies like this from happening further down the line. Check out some of those tweets below. 

This article will be updated with new information regarding the Jacksonville Shooting as it comes.

Updated on August 28, 2018: Added information from Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson’s message.

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