Baltimore, MD – The 24-year old gunman who opened fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday had struggled with mental illness.
Police said David Katz was working alone when he began shooting inside the GLHF Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza at The Jacksonville Landing at about 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 26, WJXT reported.
Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said Katz fatally shot two people and wounded nine more in his targeted rampage before he took his own life.
Other gamers participating in the “Madden NFL 19” tournament that was happening during the shooting speculated that Katz had been taking revenge for being eliminated from the game, but police have not announced a motive for the vicious attack.
“He walked past patrons in other parts of the business and targeted gamers,” Sheriff Williams said.
Police searched the townhouse located on Federal Hill along Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where Katz lived with his father on Sunday evening, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Court records from his parents’ acrimonious divorce showed that Katz had displayed psychological and behavioral problems as a teenager.
He was hospitalized for 12 days for psychiatric treatment in 2007 at Sheppard Pratt in Towson. Later on, he was admitted to another psychiatric hospital in Rockville for 13 days, WJXT reported.
His father told the court that at 12, his son was prescribed the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal which is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Divorce records showed that Katz was resistant to treatment and frequently missed school.
During his parents’ divorce, a psychologist told his parents’ attorneys that their son was unlikely to harm other people but that he could be dangerous to his mother whom he lived with at the time, the Baltimore Sun reported.
His parents disagreed over his mental health, WJXT reported.
“His hair would very often go unwashed for days,” his mother Elizabeth Katz said, according to court transcripts.
She told the court that on one occasion, her son punched a hole in a door after she took away his video games, according to WJXT.
Richard Katz told the court his son was well behaved when he was staying with him and blamed his mother for turning to counseling in lieu of parenting.
He said his son had not been “diagnosed as psychotic,” according to court documents.
Court records said that Elizabeth Katz had called police on her son from her home in Columbia on multiple occasions to report he was abusing her, and that in one instance, Katz called police on his mother and claimed she had gone after him with a knife, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Katz, who played under the gaming names of “RavensChamp” and “Bread,” had previously won several gaming tournaments, and regularly participated in a weekly game night at a sports bar near his home. In 2017, he took home a $3,500 prize after he won the Madden 2017 Bills Championship, WJXT reported.
Sheriff Williams said that both guns Katz brought to the gaming tournament had been legally purchased in Maryland.
It was unclear how Katz was able to purchase the weapons because his home state has outlawed the sale of a gun to someone who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, or who has a history of violent behavior, according to WJXT.
However, both of his inpatient stays at mental hospitals occurred while Katz was a juvenile, and federal law puts the onus on the buyer to inform the seller if they have ever been involuntarily committed to a mental institution.
All of the publicly-available information about his mental history that has been discovered so far has come from his parents’ divorce records.
Katz graduated from Hammond High School in 2011, and enrolled at University of Maryland in 2014. A university spokesperson told The Baltimore Sun that Katz had never lived on campus and had since dropped out of school.