Gamers share survival stories from 'Madden' tournament shooting

2017 Madden Bowl champion: 'Bullet grazed my head. I feel fine, just a scratch'

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - An announcer at a livestreamed "Madden NFL 19" tournament held Sunday at the Jacksonville Landing said he watched in horror as two of the competitors were killed right in front of him when a lone gunman opened fire.

“I was right there," Toshiba Sharon said. "I don’t want to be descriptive about it, but it was bad. I worked my way outside, and I saw another gentleman, Taylor Robertson, and he was laying there facedown, and we rolled him over to see if he was still alive or if he was hurt, and he wasn’t moving. His eyes were closed, but I could see his throat was wounded a little bit, but that’s when the cops came in. They came maybe 10-15 minutes after everything, and that’s when they started leading us out.”

Several competitive gamers were tweeting from the event and posted tweets in the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Madden Championship Series event, saying they were wounded in the rampage that killed three people and left others hurt.

Twitter user MaddenVtech said he was struck twice in the massacre, but noted he was okay. “I’m good… got hit twice. Lower body. One went through. The other was lodged,” he wrote.

LISTEN: Mass shooting unfolds during 'Madden NFL 19' tournament

READ: Shooter dead after mass shooting at Jacksonville Landing

Dubby, the 2017 Madden Bowl Champion, said a bullet grazed his head. “I feel fine, just a scratch on my head,” he said, adding that he was “traumatized and devastated.”

Drini Gjoka, a top competitive gamer who goes by the handle Young Drini, had just tweeted that he won his first single elimination match the shooting unfolded, calling Sunday the “worst day of my life.”

“The tourney just got shot up. Im leaving and never coming back,” Gjoka wrote, later saying: “I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb.”

“I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second,” he added.
Twitter user NinaMarie716 said her younger brother, who goes by FitzMagic13, was among those wounded in the shooting. She said he was in stable condition, but needs surgery.

“My little brother was shot today in the mass shooting in Jacksonville. My mom and I are flying down there ASAP,” she said.

Twitter user Sujeil, whose son Larry was shot three times, tweeted several images showing her son lying in a hospital bed. "God was with these guys today," she said of her son and his friends.

At least three people were killed, including suspected shooter David Katz, and nine others were taken to Jacksonville hospitals with gunshot wounds stemming from the shooting. Two others were also injured, but not shot, and another person was treated at Memorial Hospital and released Sunday.

Sheriff Mike Williams said there is no further threat to public safety, saying the suspect died of injuries from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Taylor Poindexter was visiting from Illinois and competed in Sunday's tournament. She was at the bar ordering a pizza when the shots rang out.

"We heard a pop, which sounded like a balloon pop, which was actually the first gunshot. After that, we heard the second, the third and the fourth one, and that's when everyone started moving towards the front trying to escape," Poindexter said.

She continued, "We didn't get a face or anything like that, we just saw somebody ... standing there with two hands on a gun and just walking back."

Marquis Williams, Poindexter's boyfriend, also described the chaos.

"People were being trampled, trying to get through the door, trying to duck and dodge any bullets that may have been coming that way," Williams said.

Jeff Sweeney, a longtime Madden enthusiast who has played in past tournaments, said it's a very competitive atmosphere at the events. 

"There can be trash talking -- heat of the moment type of stuff.  But in general, it’s laid back and intense at the same time. It’s a competition but people are there doing what they love too.

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Game manufacturer Electronic Arts, which sanctions these competitive gaming tournaments, said it is working with local law enforcement to gather facts about the case.

“This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved,” the company tweeted.

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