Jacksonville Shooting Results in Three Deaths: Shooter Revealed to Have Had Intense Video Game Addiction
By Tess Farrand, Staff Writer
On Sunday, August 26, 24-year-old David Katz shot and killed two video gamers at the Madden ‘19 Qualifier Tournament in Jacksonville, FL. He then took his own life.
The annual event always generates excitement as it allows fans of the game, made popular by NFL alum John Madden, to play for the chance to go to Las Vegas for the finals. As usual, this year’s Qualifier continued without interruption: until the gunshots were heard. At this time, the live stream of the players cut off. Police arrived a couple of minutes later to chaos. Katz was then identified as the shooter.
Katz lived with his father, a NASA Engineer, in Baltimore and traveled to Florida for the Qualifier. Reportedly two men were killed; Elijah Clayton, 22-years-old and a father and former Madden Champion, Taylor Roberston, 28-years-old. Additionally, multiple shots were fired injuring ten people.
As the FBI continues their investigation, detectives are unearthing details that show Katz’s gaming addiction and past violent behavior. His mother even recounts a time where he punched a hole through a wall to get video game controllers she took from him. Not uncommon for Katz, he spent many of his days going without regular grooming as the TV monitor captured his attention.
After his parents’ divorce in 2007, Katz was prescribed antidepressants and antipsychotic medication because something was off. He was never given a formal diagnosis. This is also not the only time the Katz family has dealt with the police and their son’s antics. That same year, the then 13-year-old Katz called the police because his mother took away his video games, calling it “unfair.” Events like this continued to happen into Katz’s adulthood.
There are some more oddities that help to piece the puzzle together. Katz was enrolled as a student at the University of Maryland starting in 2014, but there is no record of his attendance. Katz also struggled to make friends and was very reserved. A teacher commented of him, “I knew the other students very well, but he did not open up the same way as the others did.”
This type of reclusive behavior is not uncommon among addicted video gamers. This past May, after the Santa Fe High School Shootings in Texas, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick stated, “We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games, which now outsell movies and music.”
According to a study from The University of Missouri, video gaming habits are a global epidemic. The study found that violence triggers more violence in youth. The Movieguide® Report to the Industry also details a study conducted by Dr. Douglas Gentile, a Psychology Professor at Iowa State University. Gentile affirms that while there are some positive effects of gaming, such as brain stimulation when played in excess, gamers become desensitized, lack self-control, perform worse at school and are irritable.
Is a culture of violence in the media shaping young men’s entire view of masculinity? Michael Howell, VP of Marketing and Development at Movieguide® affirms that we, as a culture, have destroyed real manhood. He states that culture has, “created a new script of behavior predicated on moral relativism.” Young men who are being shaped by violent video games are adopting consequence-free actions that only apply in video games and bringing them into the real world. Howell continues, “video games have created a false reality that in time becomes the users adopted reality. In this reality, the user has control and anything that threatens this newfound control can expect nothing less than hatred and violence when it is taken away.”
When Katz lashed out at his parents because it was “unfair” to take away of his video games, his reality was stripped from him. He could not function as others do because his dependency on this falsified reality perhaps allowed him to escape the gravity of college, his parents’ divorce and making friends.
He wanted to escape.
The idea of escapism, which movies and video games seem to provide, is not always negative. But like the saying goes, too much of a good thing is not always good. Dr. Douglas Gentile unpacks the issue of aggression and video game violence further. He says, “So aggression is any behavior – that could be a verbal behavior, a physical behavior or a relational behavior – that is intended to harm someone else. So, if you give someone the cold shoulder, that is aggressive. But that’s different from violence, which is only physical and extreme such that if successful, it would cause severe bodily damage or death. And the research on media violence and aggression seem pretty clear – that the more children consume media violence, whether that’s in video games, TV or movies, they do become more willing to behave aggressively when provoked.”
Teaching media wisdom, discernment and self-control to our children is more important than ever. No other time in history has there been so much competition for our children’s attention, and too many children are losing themselves in false realities. Please pray for all the families involved and affected by these tragic shootings, pray that lawmakers would have wisdom and courage as to how to address the growing epidemic, and most of all, join us in sounding the alarm on the importance of protecting our children from media addiction.
Editor’s Note: To teach your children to be media wise, please read THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY and THE MEDIA WISE FAMILY. For purchase information click here.