PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - After the tragic shooting at a gaming tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, 31-year-old Philadelphia man Chris McFarland speaks out on his personal experience during the shooting.
McFarland is a top-flight gamer who was at the tournament when the shooting happened. He described the gaming community as a family and these tournaments as a safe place until Sunday night.
"I feel fine physically, mentally I'm very distraught and traumatized. It's something that I've been thinking about for the last 20 hours, like, what happened if I was in a different position, if he decided to shoot a couple more bullets, if he came in early when I was sitting in the seat."
McFarland recalls his experience moments before a stray bullet grazed the side of his head. He said he was playing Madden, locked in on his 24-ing video screen in a tournament room full of players when 24-year-old David Katz entered and began firing a handgun into the crowd.
"Your first instinct is that it's not a gunshot. You think something went wrong with the speakers, or the electric blew up or something wild. But then when you consistently hear shot after shot after shot, it's something that, 'okay, now somebody is shooting at us," said McFarland.
He said he was just to the right of the shooter as he fired left. Instincts kicked in and he scrambled for safety.
"Just dropped to the floor and that's when I looked back and I vividly saw the shooter emptying rounds out of his handgun into the crowd of people," McFarland recounts.”I was balled up under the bar where I was playing my game, and at some point I got up and ran away into a bathroom with some other people, while my face was bleeding profusely."
Two of McFarland's friends and fellow competitors were killed- eight others were injured. When the shooting stopped, he emerged to find a scene of unspeakable horror.
"Running around, seeing the terror and the sheer shock on all my friends' faces that I normally see filled with joy, is something I will never forget."
McFarland says, like many people, he has watched coverage of mass shootings before. Unlike most, he has now lived through the terror.
"It really changes when you're in the middle of the room getting shot at and you see your friends dead and that really puts a different spin on it," he said.