JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 27-year-old husband and father.
A 22-year-old former high school football player.
Both successful gamers.
A day after a gunman from Baltimore opened fire at a video game tournament at The Jacksonville Landing, tributes poured in for the two men gunned down in the sudden violence.
'Never even had a fist fight'
Elijah “Eli” Clayton, from Woodland Hills, California, played under the handle “True” or “Trueboy” and had won $51,000 in his short gaming career.
Clayton's cousin, Brandi Pettijohn, spoke for the family Monday, saying that Clayton was a good man who loved football and was saving his earnings to pay for college.
"He did not believe in violence. He never even had a fist fight," Pettijohn said.
She said he had six brothers and three sisters and was loved by many.
“We are devastated by yet another senseless act of gun violence," Pettijohn said. “Every person who has stood in this position has said that they never thought this would happen to their family, and we are no different.”
Pettijohn said anyone who would like to reach the family with messages or questions can email ElijahClayton818@gmail.com.
Clayton, who graduated from Calabasas High School in California, was known for his humility.
"Any kind of shooting in the country, especially when it involves students, effects students on every campus, and when it is this close to Calabasas High School, our students are affected," Principal C. J. Foss said. "Every one of these stories has a face and he's our face. He's our kid."
In a tweet, a friend wrote: "Prayers to the mother and brothers of Eli Clayton. One of the first ppl I was introduced to in the community. Was always willing to help if you asked. Can't believe this 😢 Also to the rest of the community that was in attendance."
Calabasas High, where Clayton played football, will hold a moment of silence in his honor before the team's football game Friday.
Our hearts are broken as we learned that former Calabasas Football player @True__818 (Elijah Clayton) was senselessly murdered today during the mass shooting in Florida. We send our love, condolences, and deepest sense of sorrow to Elijah's Family and Friends pic.twitter.com/xhdQ8TLg0d— CHS Coyote Football (@CalabasasFtball) August 27, 2018
'Change of heart'
Clayton almost didn't come to Jacksonville for Sunday's “Madden” tournament, which was part of a larger event that would send the winners to a higher level tournament in Las Vegas in October, where large cash prizes could be won.
A post Aug. 20 on Clayton's Twitter account said he'd had a change of heart and would be attending the event in the River City. He flew out Friday for what proved to be his final tournament.
Video of Clayton playing Sunday shows him smiling seconds before what appears to be a laser becomes visible on his chest. Then gunfire can be heard.
That gunfire killed both Clayton and fellow gamer Taylor Robertson.
Tournament announcer Toshiba Sharon said he wants to the men's families to know they didn't die alone.
“They died with a brotherhood. They died doing something that they loved to do," Sharon said, adding that that brotherhood will carry on the men's memories, despite the tragedy.
'Just a good guy'
Robertson, from Ballard, West Virginia, leaves behind a wife and young child, according to social media posts from family.
Like Clayton, he was a gaming champion, and had career winnings of more than $80,000. He played under the handle “SpotMePlzzz” and won the Madden Classic national tournament two years ago.
Days before Sunday's tournament, he tweeted about his excitement for "chasing a second belt."
Robertson grew up in Peterstown, West Virginia, and graduated from James Monroe High School. The community gathered there Monday night for a candlelight vigil in Robertson's memory.
Loved ones said Robertson was a wonderful son, husband and father, who always had a smile on his face. His death has sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community where he was raised.
A relative posted on Facebook, releasing a statement from Robertson's family:
Larry Jarrell said he played basketball with Robertson growing up and he is heartbroken by the loss.
"In shock, really, I mean, that something like that could happen to somebody that had so much going for him,” Jarrell said. “Just a good guy. Just can't say how good of a guy he was, you know? It's unreal.”
As the news of his death spread, people who knew him began sharing memories on social media.
A friend of his posted: "This world just keeps getting sadder. Just learning about a good friend from college losing his life over a game of Madden. Please keep Taylor Robertson ‘s family in your thoughts and prayers. I’m sorry this happened to you my friend, maybe some day a change will come."
Dot City Gaming, which sponsored Robertson, released a statement on Twitter about the men:
"They were great competitors and well-loved members of the Madden community. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to their families, loved ones, and all of those affected by this tragedy."
Robertson was also an avid Tennessee Titans fan, according to the NFL team's Twitter page.
The #Titans community lost a beloved member over the weekend.— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) August 27, 2018
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Taylor Robertson (@spotmeplzzz).
Taylor was a husband, father and passionate Titans fan who represented us honorably each time he competed. #TitanUp 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/BhRWxT9S8n
'We are all one'
For both men, this post was also shared on social media: "Rest In Peace trueboy and spotme way too young. Praying for everyone, no mother should ever have to bury their child. Spotme has a little kid that now will grow up without his dad. Trueboy was a good kid. All of this is so heartbreaking."
Sharon said he hopes the gamers' deaths can spark change.
“I hope that the kids that died that their memories live on, and I hope their memories are respected through people learning and understanding what other people feel, what other people are going through, because that kid is actually going through some things, and it affected thousands of families," Sharon said. "We are all one. We have to address the people next to us and then change.”
Police identified the gunman as David Katz, a 24-year-old gamer from Baltimore, Maryland, who was in Jacksonville for the tournament. Katz took his own life during the shooting.
Police have not released a possible motive.
In addition to Robertson and Clayton, police said 11 others were injured in the mass shooting.