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Jacksonville police report multiple fatalities at video game tournament

(NBC NEWS) --Police in Jacksonville, Florida, reported multiple fatalities and many injured at Jacksonville Landing, a downtown marketplace that hosted a video game tournament on Sunday. They added that one suspect was dead at the scene as they continued to search.

Jacksonville County Sheriff Mike Williams said that law enforcement had cleared the scene, and they are confident there is no other suspect. He said they are working to confirm the suspect's identity, but described him as a white male.

He warned the public to continue staying away from the area.

"Don’t come downtown to spectate," Williams said. We don’t need that.


Williams declined to provide a specific count of fatalities and injuries until later in the day, but law enforcement officials told local NBC News affiliate First Coast News that four people are dead and 11 are injured.

"We can’t stress enough to stay away. Many blocks away," the sheriff's department said in a tweet as the events were developing. Earlier, police had tweeted asking people to remain in hiding as SWAT searched the area.

Williams said at a 4:30 p.m. press conference that authorities had secured the scene and had several witnesses.

Jax Sheriff's Office@JSOPIO

One suspect is dead at the scene, unknown at this time if we have a second suspect. Searches are being conducted.

Jax Sheriff's Office@JSOPIO

Mass shooting at the Jacksonville Landing. Stay far away from the area. The area is not safe at this time. STAY AWAY #TheLandingMassShooting

 · Florida, USA

University of Florida Health said it had admitted six patients from the shooting, all but one — who was in serious condition — are in good condition. Three people, meanwhile, were admitted to the Jacksonville Memorial Hospital and are stable, according to a hospital spokesperson.

The shooting appears to have occurred inside a pizza restaurant that includes a bar dedicated to video games and other forms of gaming. The bar was in the middle of hosting the Madden 19 Southeastern Qualifier Tournament, which comes with a $5,000 prize. Madden 19 is the latest NFL football video game put out by sports game publisher EA Sports.

On a video of a live stream shared online, individuals playing in the Madden NFL video game tournament are interrupted by a series of popping blasts and screaming.

"What's he shooting with?" one person can be heard asking in the live-stream audio.

NBC News has not confirmed the authenticity of the video.

tephen Javaruski told MSNBC that his son, who has the same name, had just made it into the final four of the tournament. But then this afternoon Javaruski and his wife received a text from their son that said there had been a shooting and he had locked himself inside a bathroom stall.

Javaruski said his son told them, "If anything happens, I love you." That left the father feeling helpless.

"It's happened before to other people," said Javaruski, who said his son made it out alive. "You feel really bad and [are] glad it doesn't happen to you, but it seems like the law of averages today: sooner or later you're gonna be affected."

Professional esports club compLexity Gaming said they were "shocked and saddened" by the shooting. Their player Drini Gjoka, an 18-year-old professional video game player, was hit by one of the shots.

"Our player, Drini, was hit in the thumb but is going to be fine," a club spokesman said. "He managed to escape and run down the street to a nearby gym. 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."

An EA Sports spokesman said that they were aware of "an incident at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville" and said they were working with authorities to gather additional information.

The spokesperson said it was "a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved."

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said he had spoken to Jacksonville Sheriff Williams and offered any state resources he might need via the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He said he had also spoken to the mayor.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the president had been briefed and was monitoring the situation

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