LOS ANGELES (CBSLA/CBS News) – One of two people killed by a gunman who opened fire at a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday was a former Calabasas High School student.
Elijah Clayton, 22, was shot to death at a Madden NFL 19 tournament being held at a bar in a waterfront mall in Jacksonville Sunday afternoon. Clayton was competing in the tournament.
The suspected gunman, 24-year-old David Katz of Baltimore, Md., killed Clayton and 27-year-old Taylor Robertson of West Virginia. Katz wounded nine other people before turning the gun on himself, authorities said.
It’s unclear what the motive was in the attack or whether Katz was specifically targeting the victims.
Clayton attended Calabasas High School in 2014, leaving the school after his junior year. His principal, C.J. Foss, remembered him as “a leader” in a news briefing Monday morning at the campus.
“He was a contributing member of our campus,” Foss told reporters. “His mother was an amazing woman who was incredibly close to her son. And my heart breaks for her this morning and for the entire family and all of the kids that knew him and loved him.”
“He stuck up for other people, he was kind-hearted, and he was a joy to be on our campus,” she added.
Clayton played football while attending Calabasas High. The Calabasas High Coyote football team tweeted its condolences Sunday evening.
“Our hearts are broken as we learned that former Calabasas Football player @True__818 (Elijah Clayton) was senselessly murdered today during the mass shooting in Florida. We send our love, condolences, and deepest sense of sorrow to Elijah’s Family and Friends.”
Calabasas High’s football coach told CBS2 the team will hold a moment of silence in his honor prior to Friday’s game.
Prior to enrolling at Calabasas High, Clayton spent three years at Chaminade High School in West Hills. The school released a statement, which read in part:
“Elijah is remembered by his teachers, counselors and school administrators as a sweet, mild-mannered young man who always showed great respect for his peers and the faculty. He was a dedicated student, doing his best in the classroom while being a great teammate to his football family.”
The Madden website listed Clayton’s hometown as Woodland Hills.
In the last post to his Twitter account Friday, Clayton wrote, “2 hours of sleep in 2 days.”
Katz, meanwhile, had been competing in the tournament earlier that day and had lost to a man named Dennis Alston.
“I beat him and I went to shake his hand to tell him good game and he just looked at me and didn’t say anything,” Alston said.
EA Sports lists Katz as a 2017 Madden championship winner.
There were 150 people involved in the two-day event, including players and spectators. Players were competing for a chance to play in the final round in Las Vegas. “This is your chance to earn your spot in the first Major’s Live Finals happening in October 2018,” the Facebook page for the event reads. “Don’t hesitate to secure your spot!”
Tony Montagnino, a father of two who was competing in the tournament, was shot in his lower back and leg.
“I could never see his face because all I could see was the flash from the muzzle of the gun,” Montagnino said.
“If you would have told me that I was going to get shot playing a video game, I would have called you a liar,” Montagnino added. He said when the shooting started, he immediately dropped to the floor.
When the shots first rang out, witnesses said they thought it was a firecracker or balloons popping. No one expected a shooter to turn up at a qualifying round for a video game tournament. Then panic set in and people were trampled rushing for the exits.
A livestream from the event shows what appears to be a red dot flash across one of the players’ chests seconds before the first shots ring out. One witness described the “pop pop pop” sounds that “didn’t stop.”
Gunshots can be heard in recordings from the tournament on the bar’s Twitch account, which was streaming the competition. Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said investigators were reviewing the footage as evidence and encouraged the public to turn in any additional videos that could help with the investigation.
Williams said the FBI is assisting with the investigation in Baltimore. Investigators believe Katz may have stayed in a hotel during the event. Williams said authorities have impounded Katz’s vehicle and plan to search it for evidence.
Late Sunday night, the FBI said heavily armed agents had entered the family home of Katz. Dave Fitz told The Associated Press that agents went to the upscale townhouse home of the man’s father in Baltimore, but didn’t release any further information, citing the ongoing investigation.
A GoFundMe account was set up in honor of Clayton.