JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – When the first gunshot rang out Sunday at a Madden NFL 19 tournament at the Jacksonville Landing, Taylor Poindexter thought it sounded like a balloon popped.
But there was no mistaking the series of gunshots that followed, or the man she saw holding a gun. Poindexter said that’s when she and her boyfriend hit the deck.
“We’re crawling out, trying to make sure that we’re okay,” she recalled. “He actually made it out before I did. Shortly after I was able to make it out, I’m calling out to him.”
Poindexter sprained her ankle during the escape. Unable to walk, she said the couple took cover inside a nearby restaurant’s bathroom “until the coast was clear.”
Others weren't as fortunate.
Two people were killed and a dozen were injured when gunman David Katz opened fire at the tournament shortly after 1:30 p.m. Sunday before taking his own life, according to police.
The rampage was broadcast live on Twitch, a popular streaming service. The video showed a red dot resembling a laser sight on one gamer’s chest, then at least a dozen gunshots followed by screams.
Police have not confirmed the identities of those slain in the shooting.
Sheriff Mike Williams said investigators suspect Katz, 24, acted alone. Authorities have yet to release a motive in the case.
But some within the gaming community are speculating that the shooting had something to do with Katz’s poor showing at the event. He won a previous tournament in 2017.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office impounded Katz’s vehicle Sunday evening, while federal agents and authorities in his native Baltimore raided his Federal Hill area home.
For Poindexter, who traveled from Chicago for the event, shootings sadly are nothing out of the ordinary. But it’s the last thing she expected to endure at a gaming tournament.
“My heart goes out to the families,” she said.