U.S. video-game maker Electronic Arts on Aug. 28 canceled three tournaments of its Madden NFL 19 football game to review its security protocols, 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 people injured during the shooting on Aug. 26 at the GLHF Game Bar in Jacksonville, Florida.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s office said David Katz, 24, of Baltimore, targeted fellow competitors in the tournament after losing on Aug. 26. Officials 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,” Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said in a statement on Aug. 28. “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.”
The company canceled the three remaining qualifying events for the Madden NFL 19 Classic, to give it time to review security plans, Wilson said. He didn’t indicate 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 14 students and three staff members at a high school in February, five people were gunned down at the Fort Lauderdale airport last year; and 49 were shot dead at an Orlando nightclub in 2016.
The Jacksonville shooting 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 $1 billion a year.
Attorneys from the law firm Morgan & Morgan said on Aug. 28 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 identify 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 didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
By Brendan O’Brien & Gina Cherelus