Survivors of Jacksonville shooting couldn’t see gunman’s face

‘He was just letting them rip’: Survivors of Jacksonville gaming shooting reveal how they could not see the gunman’s face because the flashes from his handgun were too bright as they crawled over dead bodies to escape his hail of bullets

  • Dave Katz, 24, shot dead Taylor Robertson, 27 and Eli Clayton, 22, on Sunday
  • He then turned his handgun on himself after being eliminated from the Madden NFL 19 gaming tournament 
  • Eleven others were injured as he fired around 20 shots into a crowded pizza restaurant 
  • One survivor was shot in the chest twice and another was hit in the lower back 
  • Tony Montagnino, who was hit in the back, said no one knew who the shooter was at first 
  • Katz had returned to the tournament on Sunday in the same clothes he wore the day before
  • He was behaving strangely, said witnesses, but none predicted how violent he was 

The survivors of Sunday’s deadly gaming tournament shooting in Jacksonville, Florida, have told how they could not see who was trying to kill them as they fled for their lives because the flashes from the gunman’s weapon were so bright. 

David Katz, 24, opened fire at the Madden NFL 19 Tournament qualifier which was being held in Chicago Pizza, a restaurant in Jacksonville, on Sunday after losing. 

He killed two people –  Taylor Robertson, 27, and Eli Clayton, 22, before killing himself after returning to the pizza restaurant with a handgun not long after being disqualified at around 1.30pm.

Eleven other people were injured. Among them was Tony Montagnino, a 34-year-old married father-of-two from Round Rock, Texas, who was shot in the lower back but survived.

On Monday morning, he told Good Morning America that he knew ‘everyone’ who was playing in the tournament but could not see Katz’s face when he opened fire. 

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Tony Montagnino (left) said he could not see David Katz’s face as he opened fire at the gaming tournament on Sunday because the flashes from his handgun were too bright and he was holding it close to his face. Katz is pictured, right, in February 2017 

‘I saw his silhouette. I could see his hair but his face, he was holding the gun up and the flashes… I mean he was just letting them rip. 

‘Once I saw the flashes, I didn’t want to stick around to try to ID him so I hit the floor and tried to find cover wherever I could,’ he said.

Montagnino’s voice is captured on a harrowing audio recording of the moment Katz started shooting.

He can be heard asking: ‘What are you shooting me with?’ as the first shots rang out, before the group realized what in fact was happening. 

On Monday, he said he thought they were fire crackers at first. 

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‘I actually think you can hear my voice on there. I ask, “What are you shooting me with?” 

‘My first reaction was why is there fire crackers in here and then I actually got hit. I’d never been shot before so I didn’t know what to think.

‘Then I turned around and actually saw the flashes from the gun at that point it just went into survival mode and I just wanted to make sure I was out of there.’ 

He added that he thought of everyone in the tournament as a friend and could never have predicted the tragedy. 

‘I’m a little shook obviously…everybody there I knew and would consider friends. 

‘I was the lucky one. There’s two guys that you’ll never get to shake their hands at a tournament again.

Harrowing video footage taken moments before the shooting began showed a white laser sight focused on Eli Clayton, one of the gamers who was shot dead. The laser sight has been circled 

Clayton (left) was shot dead as was 24-year-old and Taylor Robertson (right with wife and son)

Timothy Anselimo survived despite being shot twice in the chest and once in the hand. He received a visit from Florida Governor Rick Scott on Sunday 

This was the backpack Anselimo was wearing when he was shot. It likely saved his life 

‘I’m in a hospital room next to my buddy whose got two bullets in his chest and they said they’re probably never going to be able to get them out again. 

Dalton Kent, a teacher from Port St. Lucie, was also there but escaped with his life 

‘He’s doing good but he’s just it really breaks my heart to see guys I care about as much as I do hurting and to see their families grieving.  It’s really something that I don’t want anyone to ever have to deal with.’ 

There were no indicators of what Katz was planning, he added. 

‘Never in a million years would I ever think I ‘d get shot playing John Madden football. 

‘If people knew stuff and knew what was going to happen it would be an easy fix but it could have happened anywhere,’ he said. 

Dalton Kent, a teacher from Port St. Lucie, was playing with his brother in the tournament. Both escaped.

Marquis Williams (right) and his girlfriend Taylor Pointdexter (left) were at the bar ordering pizza when the shots began. They both escaped but had to crawl over bodies on the floor to get out with their lives 

Drini Gjoka tweeted on Sunday after escaping with his life. The 19-year-old was shot in the thumb

‘When I was happening I was just hoping they wouldn’t hit me. I’m just really glad to be alive. I’ve definitely had better days,’ Kent told CBS 12 after the shooting.

Taylor Poindexter and Marquis Williams had just ordered pizza when they heard the first shots ring out. 

They were sitting at the bar, several yards from where the horror was unfolding in the back of the restaurant.   

‘We went to the bar to order a pizza, so no more than probably two or three minutes sitting at the bar we just hear a “pop” and it sounded like a balloon. 

‘But it took a quick second for it to dawn on us that there weren’t any balloons anywhere in the restaurant and then we just heard probably two or three more “pops'” and we realized it wasn’t anything other than gunshots and we got up and we took off running toward the door,’ Williams said. 

‘We didn’t see him fire off the first shot but me, personally, I saw him fire off the second, third or fourth shots as he was backing out of the area. 

‘So we took off running. I was actually first to make it out, but I fell over people and I was tripping up myself.

Katz (above) is known to have gone by the gamer monikers ‘Bread’ and RavensChamp’. He boasted last year in a video from the tournament 

Katz (right) is seen in February 2017 at the Madden 17 Bills Championship, which he won. Police said he is from Baltimore and was in Jacksonville for Madden 19

‘It felt like eternity, but it was probably in the span of a minute and [people] were running yards in front of me and I don’t see her anywhere.  I’m screaming her name and for a few seconds I didn’t see her, and then she finally emerged,’ he said of his girlfriend.

Pointdexter said she crawled over a dead body to get out. 

‘We hit the floor; I was pushed, trampled and stuff, and I had to get over [people] to get out. The best way I can describe it is, “I need to get out, I’m trying to live.”‘ 

Timothy Anselimo, was shot three times in his chest and hand. He received a hospital visit from Florida Governor Rick Scott on Sunday.

Anselimo’s mother also shared a photograph of the backpack he was wearing at the time which may have saved his life. It was sprayed with blood from where he had been shot.

Drini Gjoka, 19, was shot in the thumb. He tweeted afterwards: ‘I will never take anything for granted ever again. 

‘Life can be cut short in a second.’ 

Details of Katz home life remain unclear but he was an ominous figure in the gaming community. 

Federal authorities stage and search a home in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor as part of an investigation into the Jacksonville mass shooting. An FBI official in Baltimore confirmed that its agents were searching the family home of the man authorities believe was behind the attack

A livestream from the gaming tournament captured the moment the gunfire broke out before it cut out and displayed a ‘controller disconnected’ message

At last year’s tournament, commentators remarked on his somber demeanor and said he was ‘not there to make friends’. 

He maintained a deadpan expression as he played and pundits said trying to communicate with him was like ‘pulling teeth’. 

On Sunday, after the shooting, SWAT teams were seen arriving at his father’s home in Baltimore. 

His family has not yet released a statement.  

EA Sports, which runs the Madden tournaments, said in a statement: ‘The tragic situation that occurred Sunday in Jacksonville was a senseless act of violence that we strongly condemn.

‘Our most heartfelt sympathies go out to the families of the victims whose lives were taken today and those who were injured. 

‘All of us at Electronic Arts are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene. 

‘Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue their investigation into this crime.’

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