By Christopher Mele
Authorities in Jacksonville, Florida, said there were "multiple fatalities" at a mass shooting Sunday at a bar that was hosting a live gaming event during which 12 gunshots could be heard.The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that "many" had been transported but additional details were not immediately available.
The office reported that one gunman was dead at the scene and it was unclear whether there was another. Officials said searches were continuing.
Ryan Aleman, who was at the bar, told CNN that he saw "at least six bodies on the floor" of people who had been shot.
Just before the shots were heard on the livestream, a red laser dot appeared on the chest of one of the players, who was wearing white headphones and a red sweatshirt. The video of the players then disappeared.
Sujeil Lopez was at home in the Tampa Bay area, in Florida, when she got a call that her son, who goes by Larry, 25, had been shot.
"I have to get to him. I am four hours away from him and I have to get to my son," Lopez said on the phone.
"He was shot three times, once on the nipple, once on his hand and somewhere else," Lopez said. She did not know his condition.
Her son is a professional video game player for the Bucks Gaming team, according to his Twitter profile.
A professional video game organization, compLexity Gaming, said on Twitter that it had a player at the tournament who "suffered a small injury" when a bullet grazed his hand but that "he is away from the scene."
The player, whose name was listed as Drini Gjoka on Twitter, tweeted Sunday that the "tourney just got shot up."
"I am literally so lucky," he said. "The bullet hit my thumb." In another tweet he said he would "never take anything for granted ever again."
On Twitter, the sheriff's office said there had been a mass shooting at the Jacksonville Landing, a collection of restaurant and stores. "Stay far away from the area. The area is not safe at this time," it said in the tweet.
In another tweet three minutes later, the office said: "We can't stress enough to stay away. Many blocks away."
The office added in another tweet: "We are finding many people hiding in locked areas at The Landing. We ask you to stay calm, stay where you are hiding. SWAT is doing a methodical search inside The Landing. We will get to you. Please don't come running out."
Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville was treating three patients, who were in stable condition, a spokesman, Peter Moberg, said. Another hospital, UF Health Jacksonville, was treating six patients, one of them in serious condition and five in good condition, Dan Leveton, a spokesman, said.
The shooting happened at the GLHF Game Bar, which was hosting a tournament that viewers could watch on Twitch, a gaming network owned by Amazon.
A video clip shared on Twitter, which has since been taken down, showed the football video game Madden on a television screen.
Someone playing as the Atlanta Falcons appeared to have scored, and was kicking off. Tournament commentators remarked that the players were so good that it would not be easy to knock anyone out of the tournament.
"Run run run run run pass run run run," one viewer said in a comment stream as the game unfolded.
Then the sound of gunfire begins. Several shots are heard, one after another.
Then as the shots sound, commenters repeatedly said "oh my god."
"Is there a shooting?" a viewer asked.
"That's a gun," said another.
The video then cut off.
The bar was scheduled to host a qualifying round for the Madden NFL Championship Series, a gaming tournament.
Madden NFL 19 is the 30th installment of the popular NFL video game series, which has sold over 100 million copies. Developed by EA Sports, its release each summer — just before the start of the football season — is practically a holiday for many NFL and video game fans. Madden NFL 19 was released about two weeks ago.
The shooting took place at the southeast regional qualifying tournament for the Madden NFL 19 Classic tournament, which advertised a $5,000 grand prize and is open to anybody. Part of the broader Madden NFL Championship series of tournaments, the top two finishers were to receive a berth in the finals in October.
The tournament, like most esports tournaments big and small, was being streamed on Twitch, the Amazon-owned live streaming platform used heavily by gamers. Spectators watch the games, many hoping to pick up skills and tips from more experienced gamers.
EA Sports said in a tweet: "We are aware of an incident at a sanctioned Madden Championship Series competition in Jacksonville. We are working with authorities to gather facts at this stage."