Jacksonville Shooter Had Mental Health Issues, “Weird” Online Persona

With virtually all details about the perpetrator behind yesterday’s tragic Jacksonville shooting, David Katz, having been disclosed in the past 24 hours, one question remained: what was his motive to open fire at the Madden NFL 19 competition at the Jacksonville Landing entertainment complex, killing twp people and wounding 11 before taking his own life.

Jacksonville Shooter Had Mental Health Issues, "Weird" Online Persona
David Katz

One day later, the Associated Press reports that according to court records and people who knew him, Katz had a “weird” online presence and spent time in and out of psychiatric facilities as a teenager. and had been hospitalized for mental illness. Divorce filings from Katz’s parents say that as a teenager he was twice hospitalized in psychiatric facilities and that he was prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications.

The records show Katz’s parents disagreed deeply on how to care for their troubled son. Katz’s father claimed his estranged wife was exaggerating symptoms of mental illness as part of the couple’s long-running and acrimonious custody battle. They divorced in 2007.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Katz stayed in the Jacksonville area the night before the shooting, possibly at a hotel. He then went to the eSports competition carrying two guns but used only one during the attack, Jacksonville Sheriff Williams said. Investigators say the guns were purchased legally in Baltimore from a licensed dealer.

As previously reported, Katz allegedly got upset about losing the game, at which point he started shooting other contestant. Katz then died from a self-inflicted gunshot.

Other gamers at the tournament said Katz was rather quiet. Shane Kivlen, a friend of one of the people killed, said Katz didn’t talk much with fellow gamers, either online or when they met face-to-face for Madden tournaments, the AP reports.

He said much of what he and others knew of Katz, they learned from his baffling style of playing the game.

“(Katz) would do kind of weird stuff online that other people wouldn’t do,” Kivien said. “He would catch a ball and just start jumping out of bounds and stuff when he could have gotten more yards, just hurting himself. I don’t know what he was doing.”

Kivlen said Katz was smart, “but something was off about him.”

He says Katz wasn’t known to trash talk with rivals. But after winning a championship last year, Kivlen says Katz “got up and let out the weirdest scream ever.”

EA Sports listed a David Katz as a 2017 championship winner. Katz had been active in eSports, tournaments where video game players compete and get seen on social media playing. He was believed to be known as “Bread” and won the February 2017 Buffalo Bills tournament of the Madden NFL football game.

On Monday, investigators said Katz specifically targeted other gamers. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said during a news conference that video surveillance of the shooting shows 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore walk past other patrons at a pizzeria and head to a back room where the tournament is being hosted before he opens fire.

The Baltimore Sun reported that Katz was a 2011 graduate of Hammond High School in Howard County, and also attended the University of Maryland previously, but was not a enrolled this semester, university President Wallace Loh said. He enrolled beginning in September 2014 and majored in environmental science and technology, a university spokeswoman said. He did not live on campus.

ATF and FBI agents searched a Baltimore home on the 1200 block of Harbor Island Walk on Sunday night in connection with the rampage. They arrived at the quiet row of nearly identical brick townhouses around 6 p.m. and searched the property for just over four hours, according to Baltimore ATF Public Information Officer Amanda Hils.

Steve Buchness, a bartender at Little Havana, a Cuban restaurant across the street from Katz’s neighborhood, said he heard the alleged shooter lived nearby, but he didn’t recognize photos of Katz he saw online.

“I bet you he’s a loner, but I don’t know,” he said. “You’ve got to come in a lot for us to recognize you as a regular. People are on some weird stuff these days, you know?” He said “So no, that doesn’t shock me.”
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