Miami: Several people were killed in a mass shooting at a video game tournament in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville Sunday, local police said, with the lone suspect among the dead.
In a news conference, Sheriff Mike Williams confirmed there were multiple fatalities and injuries in the shooting at a Madden 19 American football eSports tournament, with an unidentified white male the only suspect.
“We have no outstanding suspects at this time,” he said. “We have one suspect in this case. He is deceased at the scene.”
The Miami Herald newspaper reported four people were dead and 11 wounded.
According to the LA Times, quoting player Steven “Steveyj” Javaruski, a professional Madden player for Noble eSports, the shooter was a gamer who had been competing and lost.
Madden is a hugely popular multi-player video game based on the National Football League.
The tournament at The Landing entertainment and shopping complex — a regional qualifier for finals in Las Vegas with a $25,000 prize — was being held at the GLHF Game Bar.
Sheriff Williams said the shooting occurred inside a restaurant in the complex, without offering further details, and added authorities had “just finished” clearing the scene.
Earlier on Twitter, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office had urged people hiding in locked areas of The Landing to stay in place and call 911 to make their location known.
– ‘Traumatized and devastated’ –
In disturbing footage apparently captured as part of a livestream on the video game streaming website Twitch, several gunshots could be heard in the background, before the stream disconnected. Twitch removed the video, but it remained available on social media. Police said they were in possession of footage capturing the incident.
“This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved,” Madden’s creator, EA Sports, said in a statement.
CompLexity Gaming, one of the gaming teams, said its player Drini Gjoka was grazed on the hand.
“We’re obviously shocked and saddened by this afternoon’s events. Our player, Drini, was hit in the thumb but is going to be fine. He managed to escape and run down the street to a nearby gym,” director Jason Lake told AFP.
“I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second,” Gjoka tweeted.
Another player, “DubDotDUBBY,” said a bullet had grazed his head.
“I feel fine, just a scratch on my head. Traumatized and devastated,” he tweeted.
Germany-based SK Gaming also confirmed their player “JoelCP_” was safe.
“Our thoughts are with everyone that had to be part of such a horrendous event,” it said.
The professional gamer known as “oLARRY2K,” of Bucks Gaming, was said to have been shot in the chest, according to several social media users, including one describing herself as his mother.
– ‘We cannot accept this’ –
Survivors of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February, expressed sorrow at news of another mass shooting in the state.
“Once again, my heart hurts and all of me is so angry. We cannot accept this as our reality,” Delaney Tarr, one of the organizers of the student-led March for Our Lives movement, tweeted.
Florida has suffered multiple shootings in recent years: 49 were killed in a June 2016 attack on a gay nightclub, while 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School earlier this year.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said that the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating Sunday’s shooting.
Florida Governor Rick Scott, meanwhile, said he had offered state support in the aftermath.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed President Donald Trump had been briefed on the incident.
“We are monitoring the situation,” she said.