Florida shooting: EA suspends events after gamers killed

Dave Lee
North America technology reporter

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Image source, GLHF Game Bar
Image caption,
The incident took place in a games bar attached to a restaurant

A major eSports tournament has been suspended by games publisher Electronic Arts (EA) after a shooting that saw two competitors killed on Sunday.

Three events have been cancelled while the firm conducts a "comprehensive review of safety protocols”.

EA’s chief executive Andrew Wilson said he was “filled with shock and grief” over the killings in Florida.

Taylor Robertson, 28, and Elijah Clayton, 22, were "respected, positive and skilled competitors”, he added.

Police named the killer, who later turned the gun on himself, as 24-year-old David Katz. Police said he targeted his victims but have not shared a possible motive.

The incident was partially captured on a livestream of the event being broadcast on video games site Twitch. Competitors were playing Madden NFL, EA's best-selling American Football title.

The shooting, which took place at the Jacksonville Landing shopping and entertainment complex in Florida, had prompted calls for greater security at eSports events.

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Previous winner

Contestants were aiming to qualify for a bigger tournament, the Madden Classic, to be held in October. Gamers compete for a prize pot worth $165,000.

Successful eSports players can win lucrative endorsements, earn money from video streaming and play for thousands of dollars in prizes.

To whittle down contenders, three more qualifying events like the one held on Sunday were planned, in different locations, during September.

"While these qualifying events are operated independently by partners, we work with them to ensure competitive integrity and to gather feedback from players,” Mr Wilson said in a statement.

“We have made a decision to cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators.

"We will work with our partners and our internal teams to establish a consistent level of security at all of our competitive gaming events.”

Mr Robertson, from Virginia, won the competition in 2017. He had earned $80,000 during his professional gaming career.

Mr Clayton, from California, had won more than $50,000. Fans knew him as “trueboy”.

'Broken hearted'

Family, friends and the wider gaming community have offered condolences and shared tributes to the victims.

"Elijah's family wants you to know that he was a good man,” said Brandi Pettijohn, Mr Clayton’s cousin, in a statement.

Media caption,
Florida shooting: 'It shouldn't happen anywhere'

"He did not believe in violence. He never even had a fistfight. He loved football and out of all the video games he could play - he settled and mastered Madden.

"He made a good living gaming and he saved his earnings so he can afford to go to college to continue his education.”

Mr Clayton had been a former member of the football team at Calabasas High School. The team said it planned to have a moment of silence at its next game. The school’s head teacher said the community was “broken hearted”.

As well as the two deaths, 10 other attendees were wounded in the attack.

In his statement, EA’s Mr Wilson concluded: "This is the first time we’ve had to confront something like this as an organization, and I believe the first time our gaming community has dealt with a tragedy of this nature.

"Please take time to support each other through this challenging time."

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