Parents of Jacksonville shooting suspect had been desperate to find psychiatric care for son

Years before a 24-year-old Columbia man allegedly unleashed a deadly barrage of gunfire at a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Fla., the parents of David Katzhad been desperate to find some treatment for their son’s troubling behavior.

They had tried psychiatric care in Towson and Rockville, enrolled him in public and private schools, and even sent him to Utah for a therapeutic wilderness school for teens.

Court records show his behavior was still worrisome.

“David would go days without bathing, would play video games until 4 a.m. on school nights, would walk around the house in circles,” Howard County Circuit Judge Lenore Gelfman wrote in 2010. “[He] was failing all classes at Hammond High, was unresponsive to school teachers and uncooperative with school psychotherapists/counselors, and was extremely hostile toward his mother.”

Katz once punched a hole through his mother’s bedroom door to retrieve the video game controllers she had taken from him, his mother, Elizabeth Katz, told the court.

The young man’s mental health and treatment were among the issues at the center of a contentious decade-long divorce case between his parents. Hundreds of pages of court records reveal his troubling behavior and his parents’ search for a treatment in the years preceding Sunday’s deadly attack.A Baltimore man has been identified as the gunman who opened fire at a Jacksonville, Fla., Madden video game competition Sunday.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said Katz shot and killed two people and injured 10 others before taking his own life during the “Madden” football video-game tournament in Jacksonville. Elijah Clayton, a 22-year-old football star from California, and Taylor Robertson, a 28-year-old from West Virginia, were killed.

On Monday, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams said investigators have not yet determined a motive. He said Katz recently purchased the two handguns he used in the shooting legally from a licensed dealer in the Baltimore area.

Charles Spencer, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the agency continues to investigate Katz’s actions before the shooting — where he was, where he stayed and with whom he had contact. Agents are also looking into Katz’s history.

David Katz was raised in Columbia as the youngest son of Richard and Elizabeth Katz. At the time of their divorce in 2005, Richard Katz was a prominent engineer who designed electronics for NASA spacecraft. Dr. Elizabeth Katz worked as a toxicologist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Rockville. The couple had two boys, Brandon and David. The family lived in the tree-lined suburbs of Howard County. Neither parent could be reached for comment Monday.

Court records show they had a fraught relationship. She called the police on him in February 2009, his father said in court records. The court record includes a transcript of the 911 call.

“He’s sitting here wrestling me with the cable cord to the TV. I’ve had enough with this child. He has been abusive for over two years,” his mother told the dispatcher.

Four months later, the son called police on his mother, according to a transcript of the call.

“Well I was trying to watch TV and she came in and tried to cut the cord because she thought I wasn’t being fair to my brother or something,” he told the dispatcher. “Then I just like stood in her way and then she just came in with like scissors and I took the scissors and then she came with a knife.”


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