Trump stays silent after mass shooting at video game tournament in Jacksonville

President Donald Trump tweeted about a number of subjects on Sunday — but not about America's latest mass shooting

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 27, 2018 9:32AM (EDT)

 (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has tweeted about a number of subjects since Sunday — from bragging about the economy to insulting his critics in the media — but he has conspicuously failed to acknowledge the mass shooting in Jacksonville, Florida that left two people dead and 11 more injured.

This is part of a consistent pattern during Trump's presidency: While he is outspoken on Twitter about prominent violent crimes that involve non-white suspects, he remains mum or only gives cursory statements about those in which the alleged perpetrators are white. This was evident when he was silent after high-profile acts of mass violence in Kentucky, Kansas, Tennessee and Toronto, all of which had white suspects. By contrast, when acts of mass violence occurred in Paris, San Bernardino, Orlando and Manchester, Trump took to social media almost immediately to condemn them.

Authorities remain unclear as to the motives behind a mass shooting at a gaming event in Jacksonville, Florida that left two innocent people dead and 11 others injured.

The prevailing theory is that the suspected culprit, a 24-year-old gamer named David Katz, was frustrated at having lost during the Sunday tournament and began shooting other gamers in anger, according to Reuters. This account has been confirmed by a number of eyewitnesses who told local media outlets that they saw Katz get disgruntled after being defeated during the tournament.

Although police have not yet released the names of Katz's victims, family members have told the local media outlets that the murdered gamers are Eli Clayton and Taylor Robertson. Those accounts were confirmed by the Miami Herald, which identified Clayton as being from Woodland Hills, California and Robertson as being from Ballard, West Virginia.

The incident has also raised questions about the kind of security that should attend esports tournaments, which have become multimillion dollar affairs attracting top talent and even leading to the creation of professional teams. As Time Magazine reported, there have been previous concerns about the level of security at these events — which, given their rising popularity, common sense dictates should at the very least match that of professional athletic competitions:

“It’s very clear that we need to be more proactive for 2019 and beyond,” tweeted Joey Cuellar, the tournament director for the Evolution Championship Series, an esports event that focuses on fighting games.

The tournament is held in Las Vegas and draws some 15,000 people. In March, organizers called the FBI when someone wrote online: “mass shooting @EVO18 see you there.”

The event went off without a hitch, but Cuellar also wrote on Sunday: “The amount of undercover law enforcement at Evo was unprecedented, and we will be installing metal detectors for ALL days next year.”

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Marquis Williams, one of the competitors at the event who rushed out for his life, described the harrowing ideal during an interview with ABC News.

"We went to the bar to order a pizza, so no more than probably two or three minutes sitting at the bar we just hear a 'pop' and it sounded like a balloon. But it took a quick second for it to dawn on us that there weren't any balloons anywhere in the restaurant and then we just heard probably two or three more 'pops' and we realized it wasn't anything other than gunshots and we got up and we took off running toward the door," Williams told ABC News after the shooting.

He added, "We didn't see him fire off the first shot but me, personally, I saw him fire off the second, third or fourth shots as he was backing out of the area. So we took off running. I was actually first to make it out, but I fell over people and I was tripping up myself. . . . It felt like eternity, but it was probably in the span of a minute and [people] were running yards in front of me and I don't see her anywhere. I'm screaming her name and for a few seconds I didn't see her, and then she finally emerged."

A homeless veteran and former Marine, Thadys Gilder, also recalled his harrowing observations from the event, which he did not attend but which he witnessed as he was leaving a nearby restaurant bathroom.

"I heard people running out, so that's what me go assess the situation, so as soon as I got everybody out of the building I went in. . . . I went around the back of the bar where they serve drinks and saw a man laying on his stomach, so what I do is turn him over on his stomach, feel for the pulse. I feel no pulse, so I took my shirt off, my brand new white T-shirt, and I applied pressure to the wound -- feel it again and there was a pulse," Gilder told ABC News.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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