CLEARWATER, Fla. — A Clearwater gamer who was in attendance at the Madden tournament in Jacksonville that turned into a mass shooting scene August 26 is sharing his story and encouraging other who were there and impacted by the event to seek help.
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Stephen Javaruski, 22, is a lifelong gamer.
He said he was at the Madden tournament in Jacksonville on Sunday when a gunman opened fire. On Monday he described what happened during those frantic moments.
“I just heard gunshots,” Javaruski said. “I just dropped to the floor.
"People were just like scrambling like cockroaches, like when a light shines on them," he continued. "Me along with a bunch of other people went to the bathroom. Some people tried to go to the exit.”
Javaruski said he called police once he heard the gunshots and then he called his family. He waited in a bathroom with several others until police arrived.
He said when he walked out he saw that his two friends had been murdered, and ten other gamers who he knows very well were shot too.
“The two people that were killed were really good friends of mine, and now I don’t get to see them anymore,” he said.
Right after the shooting Javaruski said he reached out to a counselor to talk about what he had just witnessed. He’s encouraging everyone else in the gaming community to do the same if they’re going through something.
“It’s OK to go get some help. It’s OK to talk about it. It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to be mad," Javaruski said. "Your emotions are valid. You gotta deal with it in whatever way you need to, but you need to deal with it."