Multiple people are dead, including a suspect, in what authorities called a mass shooting at a mall in downtown Jacksonville, Fla., on Sunday.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said that it did not know whether there were additional gunmen and that police were searching the area for suspects. The incident occurred at the Madden 19 video game tournament at the Jackson Landing mall.
“Stay far away from the area…The area is not safe at this time. STAY AWAY,” The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wrote Sunday afternoon on Twitter.
A live stream of the competition on Twitch showed a red laser dot briefly appearing on a competitor’s sweatshirt before the camera angle switched and gunshots could be heard. The competitor has not been identified, and it’s unclear whether he was hit.
Danny Flaherty, a 22-year-old gamer from the United Kingdom, said that he heard gunshots and that his “only thoughts” afterward were “to run.”
Later, he said, police arrived.
“We have been informed by the police that we cannot discuss the information as it’s not a murder scene,” he told The Washington Post.
Another player, Drini Gjoka, said a bullet hit him in the thumb.
“I will never take anything for granted ever again,” Gjoka wrote on Twitter. “Life can be cut short in a second.”
Complexity Gaming, the company that sponsors Gjoka, said he managed to escape and run down the street to a gym.
“We’re obviously shocked and saddened by this afternoon’s events … He’s currently cooperating with the authorities and we will be flying him out of Jacksonville as soon as we are given the green light from the officials on the ground,” Complexity Gaming founder and chief executive Jason Lake said in a statement.
About 45 minutes after the sheriff’s office first announced the live shooting, it asked people still hiding in the mall to call 911 for help.
Electronic Arts, the digital interactive entertainment company in charge of the tournament, said it is aware of the incident and is cooperating with law enforcement.
“This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved,” the company said.
Esports tournaments such as the Sunday event involve professional competitors vying for prize money in games streamed to thousands of online spectators. Prominent esports players carry endorsement deals and legions of fans, much like professional athletes do.
The Jacksonville event was a regional qualifier leading to an October final in Las Vegas, with a top prize of $25,000. It was unclear how many players were in the mall when the shooting occurred.
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