‘I don’t wanna play Madden again’ – witness describes horrifying shooting (exclusive)
“I don’t wanna play Madden again.”
25-year-old Aaron Frishman was one of over 100 competitors in Jacksonville, Fla. this weekend to participate in the Madden 19 Classic qualifying tournament taking place at GLHF Game Bar at the Jacksonville Landing. He came to the event, driving several hours with a friend, in hopes of becoming one of the lucky finalists to qualify for the Madden Classic main event in Las Vegas. Instead, he left in panic and shock after having witnessed a shooting that left several wounded and at least three dead.
The experience, Frishman told Larry Brown Sports, was “like something you see in a movie, but you never actually think you’ll witness in real life.”
Frishman, who lives in Pembroke Pines, Fla., drove over four hours and 300 miles to participate in the Jacksonville event. He was eliminated on Saturday but was in attendance on Sunday as his friend, Darren Hojjati, competed in the single-elimination tournament. Hojjati, who lives in Los Angeles but flew out to Florida for the competition, had just lost in the second round of the tournament about 10 minutes before the shooting occurred.
The two had different experiences during the shooting.
Frishman says he was sitting at the bar at GLHF Game Bar, drinking a beer, when he suddenly heard the shots fire. He says he froze upon hearing the shots and didn’t know what to do, so he crawled under his bar stool and curled up in a ball, praying the shots didn’t come his direction.
“He was shooting at everybody. 100-plus people. I was just praying he didn’t shoot in my direction,” Frishman told larrybrownsports.com.
He was lucky that the shots did not go towards him, allowing him to survive as he remained under his bar stool for a good 2-3 minutes before things stopped.
Frishman was only a few feet away from the shooter, who also was at the bar. According to Frishman, the shooter, who witnesses say had lost in the tournament, had a beer at the bar, though Frishman believes it was only one beer and that the man was not drunk.
Frishman told LBS that the shooter was easily distinguishable in the crowd because he was wearing sunglasses indoors.
The remnants of the havoc wreaked by the shooter were horrifying. Frishman saw several people bloodied from the gun shots.
Hojjati, 29, had just finished his second-round tournament game about 10 minutes before the shooting. Upon hearing the gun shots, Hojjati says he began running and found safety in a bathroom along with several other men.
“There was no exit. I heard one shot, left, started running, ran into the bathroom with a bunch of other dudes and started barricading the door,” Hojjati told Larry Brown Sports.
He says there were about 10-15 people hiding in the bathroom.
“Some of us were ready if he was going to burst in there. We were going to disarm the guy,” he said.
Hojjati only came out of the bathroom after an off-duty cop said it was safe to evacuate.
“Your initial reaction is to think it’s a joke. It’s so surreal to be involved in that. Never thought I’d have to experience that,” a shaken Hojjati said.
The horrifying experience left the two wondering why there wasn’t more done to ensure the safety of those in attendance.
“There were no metal detectors, no police presence,” said Frishman. “I would feel a lot safer if there was a metal detector.”
He notes the events often get heated because there is a lot of money on the line.
The traumatic experience left a deep impact on Frishman.
“It makes me never want to go to a Madden event ever again let alone play Madden. Now I don’t want to play Madden again.”