David Katz, the young man suspected of opening fire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday, had been hospitalized twice for mental illness as an adolescent, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press.
On Monday, AP reporters Michael Biesecker and David McFadden cited divorce filings from the alleged Jacksonville gunman's parents, Maryland residents Richard and Elizabeth Katz, which indicated that the couple disagreed on how to deal with their son David's issues. According to the documents, Richard accused Elizabeth of "exaggerating" David's mental illness symptoms as they battled for custody of their children.
As further noted, David Katz was an "obsessive" video gamer as an adolescent, to the point that he would refuse to take a bath or go to school. This forced his mother to take action by confiscating the boy's gaming equipment after he was caught playing until the early morning.
"His hair would very often go unwashed for days. When I took his gaming equipment controllers away so he couldn't play at 3 or 4 in the morning, I'd get up and find that he was just walking around the house in circles," Elizabeth Katz said, as transcribed on the court documents.
Elizabeth also claimed that her son punched a hole in the door in anger after she locked his gaming controllers in her bedroom.
After David Katz's parents divorced in 2007, the then-13-year-old boy began to withdraw into himself, skipping school and frequently resorting to crying fits. While he was reportedly given the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal around that time, Richard Katz claimed in the court filings that his son was "not diagnosed as psychotic," and therefore didn't need to take the medication.
According to the Associated Press, David Katz was placed under the custody of his mother after the divorce, with his father getting visitation rights. During that time, David was frequently absent from school and spent 12 days in late 2007 in the Sheppard Pratt mental health system in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, where he was given antidepressants. Later on, he spent close to two weeks at the Potomac Ridge mental health facility in Rockville.Despite David's multiple trips to mental health facilities in his early teens, Richard Katz claimed on the court documents that the boy did not need such treatment, and that his ex-wife Elizabeth was obsessed with "using mental health professionals and in particular psychiatric drugs" to deal with David's problems, instead of disciplining him like "parents should naturally do."
The divorce records also indicated a time in 2010, when David Katz was 16 or 17, when his mother allegedly told a 911 dispatcher that David was "abusing" her by coming home later than expected after visiting his father, and "assaulting" her by "trying to gain control" of the cable cord. It was also noted that David's relationship with his mother, as described by his father, grew progressively worse as the years passed, as he blamed her for his poor grades and frequently acted out toward her. In contrast, Richard Katz claimed that his son was "generally lively [and] communicative" and "playful" during his visits.
Before he was identified by authorities as the man who opened fire at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, on Sunday, killing two people before shooting himself, David Katz was known as a silent, brooding individual who didn't socialize with his fellow gamers. Speaking to the New York Post, gamer Shay Kivien described Katz as a "loner" who "came to play and kept to himself," adding that he might have been one of the alleged shooter's targets, had he not chosen to return to his hotel after losing a game in the tournament.