'Lack of security' blamed for deadly gaming tournament

VIDEO: Gamer from Edmonds describes shooting in Jacksonville

UPDATE: Monday night, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said the company would "cancel our three remaining Madden Classic qualifier events while we run a comprehensive review of safety protocols for competitors and spectators."

Wilson said the company would work with partners "and our internal teams to establish a consistent level of security at all of our competitive gaming events."

Organizers of the PAX West event in Seattle, which starts Friday, said they do not publicly announce or discuss details of security in order to maintain effectiveness.

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"However, we work closely with the Washington State Convention Center, private security, the Seattle Police Department and federal law enforcement authorities to identify risks, assess them and develop our comprehensive security protocols for PAX West," spokesman Kyle MacGregor Burleson said in a written statement.

"We have in place extensive proactive measures; some that are visible during PAX events and many that are not. We are always working to improve our security plans and, if need be, adjust them, to ensure that we are doing all that we can to make PAX West, and all PAX events, a safe and secure environment for the community."

ORIGINAL TEXT: A competitive gamer from Edmonds was in the room when the gunshots rang out at the Madden NFL 19-Qualifier tournament last weekend in Jacksonville, Florida.

"It was just panic for me," said 21-year-old Shay Kivlen. "It was really tough. I was going through a bunch of emotions."

Two young men were killed in the shooting; nine others were hurt.  The suspect then turned the gun on himself.  New court documents show that man, also a competitor, was previously hospitalized for mental illness.

In just four days, 100,000 people are expected to descend on downtown Seattle for the PAX  gaming convention at the Washington State Convention Center, where security concerns are now coming to light.

"No metal detectors, no bag checks," says Kivlen. "I didn't even see any security."

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Kivlen was on his way back home to Edmonds from the competition in Jacksonville. Kivlen’s gaming name is  ''Young Kiv." He is considered one of the nation's top e-sports gamers.

He says security was conspicuous by its absence in Florida.

"Supposedly, there was one security guard," Kivlen said. "But I didn't see any.  And I was there both days. There was a real lack of security."

This comes just days before the Penny Arcade Expo or PAX returns to the Washington State Convention center. Video has been posted on line from its 2017 Seattle convention.

Organizers have posted an extensive security protocol on the PAX website, including instructions to seek out volunteers known as Enforcers if they need help.

Jesse Munoz is visiting Seattle from Fresno, California.  
"A couple years back, MLG Anaheim, a big convention center for 'Call of Duty,' 'X-Box,' " said Munoz. "There was no security there either."

He said security is usually lacking at gaming conventions.

"They haven't really caught up to speed with that stuff," Munoz said. "So as intense as these games are and all the trash talk that goes into it, one thing leads to another and you have a conflict like this."

Kivlen, whose best friend was among the gamers killed in Jacksonville, believes even a metal detector would have saved lives.

"I don't think it could hurt anyone to have to go through a metal detector or have their bag checked," he said, "because in a Madden tournament, all you should be bringing anyway is a controller."

PAX organizers are to arrive at the Washington State convention center Tuesday.  Officials say they will likely have more information later this week.

According to its website, the PAX convention is nearly sold out.  Visit Seattle says it could generate some $35 million over four days.