Multiple fatalities occurred in a shooting at a Madden 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Fla.
JACKSONVILLE – Customers come to the Chicago Pizza and Sports Grille to sip beers, talk sports and indulge in deep-dish pies and other pub grub.
On Sunday, the calm of a weekend afternoon at the riverfront hangout was shattered when gunfire ripped through the air and a stampede to escape ensued — many scrambling from a gaming parlor at the back of the restaurant.
Witnesses described a harrowing scene before three people, including the gunman, were dead and 11 were injured in a storm of bullets.
Braheem Johnson, a cook at the grill, caught a glimpse of the shooter, whom he described as a young male of average build who fired into the crowd using a large caliber handgun with a laser sight attachment.
“I just heard shots and I looked at the window and I see him,” Johnson said. “Dude came in there, basically like, to kill … He was just in his rampage mode.”
Johnson barricaded himself and some customers in the restaurant and grabbed a pair of kitchen knives. “If you come into this kitchen, you’re bound to get stabbed,” Johnson said he told the gunman.
Sunday evening, Sheriff Mike Williams said the shooter was believed to be David Katz, 24, of Baltimore. He said the FBI was searching the man’s home as part of the investigation.
Marquis Williams told the Associated Press he and his girlfriend, Taylor Poindexter, were ordering pizza at the restaurant when shots erupted.
“Initially we thought it was a balloon popping, but there weren’t any balloons in the room. Then we heard repeat shots and we took off running.”
Williams participated in the gaming tournament earlier that Sunday, he said. Gamers sit in chairs in front of monitors with headsets to play popular games such as Fortnite or Madden NFL 19.
The path to the restroom at the restaurant would take customers through the gaming parlor, called the GLHF Game Bar. Both spaces are located at an entertainment complex called Jacksonville Landing.
Later Sunday, a few city blocks away from the shooting scene, local residents bemoaned the notion that their beloved “boardwalk” was tarnished forever.
“Now I won’t bring my 5-year-old over there,” said Jesse Santiago of Jacksonville. “That place usually has a lot of kids in it. I just got my boardwalk ruined.”
Chris Haight wondered why someone would even think to bring a handgun to a video game tournament. “I can’t get past the fact that a grown man was playing video games, which I’m OK with, but now three people are dead and others are injured because he got mad and decided to pull out a gun.”
Bartender Adam Kenneway at nearby Spliff’s Gastro Pub said he arrived for his shift a few hours after the shooting to find his restaurant was on lockdown.
“That video game area is hardcore, not like an arcade,” he said. “It’s a very tight-knit community and people were coming from all around for this tournament.”
Contributing: David Osborn and John Torres, USA TODAY Network; The Associated Press
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