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Inside a nightmare: Police detail events of Aug. 26, 2018

David Katz fired 12 shots in crowded game bar inside Jacksonville Landing

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – In the hours and days after two people were killed and a dozen people were injured at a video game tournament at the Jacksonville Landing one year ago, police conducted a thorough investigation. We now have access to the 26 documents generated by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

After losing a game and refusing to shake hands with the winner of a Madden NFL game at the GLHF (Good Luck Have Fun) Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza, David Katz went to his car and returned with two handguns. At 1:34 p.m., Katz fired 12 shots in the crowded game room as the tournament was being livestreamed on Twitch.

Elijah Clayton and Taylor Robertson were killed. After the mass shooting, Katz took his own life.

More than 200 police, firefighters and other first responders were at the Landing within minutes. Nine people with gunshot wounds and at least two others who were injured fleeing the gunfire were hospitalized.

Katz, 24, was known in the professional gaming world by the screen name Bread or the Ravens Champ. Katz’s parents told investigators that he first showed signs of mental illness when he was 11 years old. They said their son withdrew from interactions at school and electronics took over his life.

At 13, Katz was hospitalized for a second time for mental health issues. Eventually, a court ordered him to take anti-depressants.

According to reports, Katz last spoke with a family member five days prior to the shooting -- telling them everything was normal. But Katz, a Baltimore, Maryland, resident, didn't mention he was going to Jacksonville for the Madden tournament. Before every other tournament Katz had participated in, he told someone he was going.

LOOKING BACK: AUG. 26-27, 2018
Gunman among 3 dead at Jacksonville Landing
Police Identify shooter as gamer
Many survivors were shot more than once
Reaction to mass shooting, sorrow, prayers
Images from scene of mass shooting
Gamers share survival stories after mass shooting

The reports indicate the Landing shooting may not have been a random act of violence but an act of revenge. Detectives learned Katz (pictured, left) knew his victims. One of Katz’s friends told police the grudge started two years prior to the shooting at a Madden conference in Las Vegas when Clayton beat Katz.

After that tournament, Clayton and Katz, along with other gamers, were getting into a taxi when Katz said Clayton slammed the door on him and drove off. Other gamers have disputed that story. 

The JSO report said Katz was continually picked on by other players. Many witnesses described him as weird and socially awkward. One report said a player joked in a chat room that Katz looked like a school shooter.

Reports show Katz was acting even more unusual the weekend of the late August weekend of the tournament. Other gamers said he never took his sunglasses off and did not change his clothes between Saturday and Sunday.

The JSO Incident Command System tracked response to the mass shooting:

  • Jacksonville Sheriff's Office: 197 sworn officers; 5 civilians
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: 4 agents
  • Florida Highway Patrol: 14 troopers
  • FBI: 10 agents
  • ATF: 12 agents
  • Red Cross - 9 members

One of the gamers who referred to himself as Clayton's best friend said he saw the red dot from the scope cross his sight of vision, cross over his chest and on to Clayton's. He believes Katz was targeting him. 

Fellow gamers said he became angry after he was eliminated from the tournament, citing issues with the game.

But many gamers don’t believe that’s why Katz began shooting. Another competitor who had beaten Katz that weekend told investigators that if Katz was angry he lost, he would have also targeted him.

The reports also tell how victims helped each another after the shooting. One man took the shirt off his back to make a tourniquet for one of the wounded.

"It was a terrible day. It was a day that demonstrated the worst in humanity, but it also demonstrated the best for our public safety workers,” Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said.

About the Authors:

Lauren Verno anchors the 9 a.m. hour of The Morning Show and is the consumer investigative reporter weekday afternoons.

Created WJXT.com in 1995 and managed The Local Station's website ever since.