Esports shooting survivor tells story, files lawsuit

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida. – Jacob Mitich had made it to Round Two of the Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, and had nearly scored a touchdown as the shot sounded.

Vaulting over a table, he scrambled to leave the crowded room. First, he ran outside to the waterfront, where he and his friends had watched the dolphins the day before. Thinking the shooter could follow, he sprinted for a few minutes during the use of pure adrenaline.

“When my leg started to hurt bad. I thought it was cramp. I went to grab my left leg and there was blood everywhere. I had been shot.”

Mitich was one of the 10 people injured on Sunday in the esports competition. Three died, including the shooter.

Now, Mitich is filing a lawsuit against the developer of the game, the tournament, the pizza parlor that the host of the event and the mall where it was located.

“We’re sitting there playing a video game, we don’t have to worry about someone behind us and shooting us,” said Mitich, a 23-year-old student from Fallson, Maryland.

Mitich and his lawyer filed a lawsuit in circuit court in Duval County on Thursday, and spoke exclusively to The telegraph by the telephone.

An old Madden gamer, he and other elite e-sports players went to this kind of events not only in the hope of winning money, but to talk with the tribe of gamers.

Then he met with his friends the night of Friday to Saturday, they went to look out of the tournament room in Chicago Pizza, the restaurant and the bar in The Landings waterfront mall in the heart of Jacksonville.

“We were all laughing because of how small it was,” he said.

He and his friends went to Hooters that night, then went to the tournament all day Saturday. It was so busy that they had to compete in groups of ten, and the people could not easily see their friends play.

That night they sat late, and on Sunday, everyone rolled into the tournament area around the ten. Sometime that morning, a 24-year-old former champion gamer named David Katz lost, but not a big deal about a few people’s attention.

“He didn’t like to communicate, he was antisocial,” said Mitich. “Last year he won the Buffalo Bill club series. I don’t think he has a reaction to winning or losing.”

Then it was Mitich turn. It was Around Two, which meant he was to go further in the tournament. His friend, Taylor Robertson, a 28-year-old West Virginian known in the esports community as a “Spot of Me,” after his twitter handle @spotmeplzzz — stood behind and watched.

Mitich made a game in the attack and almost scored.

“Pop pop pop. I thought it was a balloon. I didn’t know what it was,” he said. He heard someone say that the word “shooter” and then he ran. Katz was the shooter.

Robertson was right behind him, he thought.

If Mitich discovered that he was shot, a passer-by helped him hobble to a nearby office building, where a guard let them in.

Mitich, the injuries were not life threatening he was discharged from the hospital that night and flew home Monday morning. His friend Robertson, however, had a deadly shot.

Mitich’s lawyer, James Young, Morgan & Morgan in Jacksonville, said the lawsuit claims negligence. There was no off-duty officer for the event attracted more than 100 people, he said. The mall had its own security guard, and she was spotted in the pizza place for the shooting, but the Young said that it is unclear where she was during the shooting.

On Wednesday, the Jacksonville fire inspectors shut down of Chicago Pizza. A city code violation report says that the restaurant does not have a permit to keep the Madden NFL 19 tournament. Also The Florida Times-Union reported that the restaurant is for the last approved building layout was submitted in 2009. Fire inspectors said the layout has been changed without the approval of the creation of the GLHF Game Bar, the room where the tournament took place.

The restaurant’s voicemail was full on Thursday, and a message on Facebook was not returned. When reached for comment, a spokeswoman for The Landing didn’t directly respond to the accusations, saying instead that the company is working together with the authorities.

Young said the suit is also seeking relief from Electronic Arts Inc., the developer of the game, in order to ensure safe parking for the tournaments. The lawsuit said that Electronic Arts failed to provide the security, the screen of the gamers, inform the local police about the tournament or to tell the gamers something about the location. Similar claims of safety were made against other suspects.

Electronic Arts did not respond to an emailed request for comment, but in a statement earlier this week, CEO Andrew Wilson said that they were cancelling a planned Madden qualifier events “, while we have a comprehensive review of the safety protocols for competitors and spectators. We will work with our partners and our internal teams to a consistent level of safety in our competitive gaming events.”

Four days after the shooting, Mitich hopes to start college a week late. But the memories of his friend Robertson haunt him.

“His life ended watching me play Madden.”


Follow Tamara Lush on Twitter http://twitter com/tamaralush

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