UNITED STATES – U.S. video game maker Electronic Arts (EA.O) on Tuesday canceled three tournaments of its Madden NFL 19 football game to review its security measures after a competitor who lost a Florida matchup shot dead two rivals and wounded 11 others. A Florida law firm said it planned to file a civil lawsuit later this week on behalf of the people injured during the shooting on Sunday at the GLHF Game Bar in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office has said David Katz, 24, targeted fellow competitors in the tournament after losing on Sunday. It said Katz shot dead Elijah Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 27, before killing himself. “We’ve all been deeply affected by what took place in Jacksonville,” Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, said in a statement on Tuesday. “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.”
EA canceled the three remaining qualifying events for the Madden NFL 19 Classic to give it time to review security plans, Wilson said. He did not say when or if the events would be rescheduled. The EA Sports division of Electronic Arts makes Madden NFL 19, a video game that depicts National Football League competition.
The incident was the latest high-profile shooting in Florida in recent years. A gunman killed 17 students and staff at a high school in February and another killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016. The killings rocked the world of professional video game tournaments, also known as esports, which boasts an estimated 250 million players worldwide in a growing market worth about a billion dollars a year.
Attorneys from the law firm Morgan & Morgan said on Tuesday they would file a negligent security lawsuit this week against event organizers as well as the venue where the esports event was held, on the behalf of at least six victims who were injured physically or emotionally. Lawyers declined to name the plaintiffs or to specify precisely who they planned to sue. “Business owners and event organizers have a duty to provide a safe environment,” attorney Matt Morgan told a news conference. “This event could have and should have been prevented had there been the proper safety measures in place.”
Katie Boyles, a spokeswoman for The Jacksonville Landing, the shopping center and event space where the gaming tournament was held, declined to comment on news of the planned lawsuit. A representative of EA Sports did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Gina Cherelus in New York;
Editing by Peter Graff and Frances Kerry