Public safety prioritized after recent tournament shooting

The growing trend of public shootings has now affected video game tournaments.

On August 26, Electronic Arts held a Madden tournament, EA’s series of football video games, at a video game bar in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. David Katz walked into the bar and opened fire, killing two and wounding nine others. He then committed suicide. While Jacksonville police didn’t say anything about a motive, those who knew and played with Katz said he lost a game earlier that day.

“All of us on the Madden team are devastated by this horrific event, and we also join the community in thanking the first responders who were quickly on the scene. Our focus right now is on those affected, and supporting law enforcement as they continue this investigation into this crime,” EA said in a statement. The company decided to cancel the rest of the tournament, citing the need to improve security.

“We have made a decision to cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators,” Andrew Wilson, CEO of EA, said in an official statement.

Because video game conventions and tournaments always post security, the industry has remained relatively untouched by mass tragedy on this level. The shooting came just a week before the Penny Arcade Expo, a media convention held in Seattle, prompting stronger security measures for the convention.

The shooting is yet another in a growing trend of mass shootings, prompting people from conventions and John Brown University to strengthen security measures with the goal of keeping everyone safe. Scott Wanzer, director of Campus Safety, strives to make campus as safe as possible.

“We recognized about two years ago that target value was going to be in a large group gathering. It’s not going to be just two people hanging out in the atrium of SBC. It would be chapel or the cafeteria, it’s a play performance in the BPAC, that kind of thing,” Wanzer said.

“In that light, we decided it was wise to have a campus safety officer in chapel as a preventative measure, and with the J. Alvin incident in November, we realized it was even more of a concern.” Wanzer referred to JBU student Timothy Constantin, who was escorted off-campus when it weapons were discovered in his possession.

Despite the trends, neither students nor Wanzer feel the campus is in active danger. “The JBU culture has been very healthy, I think even more healthy than the culture at large. And specifically with the J. Alvin incident, no one was shot or injured because of the community,” he said.

“Those suitemates who cared about each other and engaged each other in conversation and went for a two-hour walk in the middle of the night just to understand and support and process, they didn’t give up,” Wanzer said.

Anna Chan and Kevin Gamor, both first-year students, feel safe and protected by campus safety posted outside chapel. “It just reassures me,” Chan said.

“You feel safe and like they’re taking care of you,” Gamor said.

Gabriella Leal, a junior, agrees with them. In her view, no place is absolutely protected, but JBU is still safe, “I’m not particularly concerned about JBU. I feel it is a really safe environment with campus safety. I think they do a really good job and are professional with what they do.”