NewsRegion North PinellasClearwater


Clearwater graduate student who witnessed Jacksonville shooting speaks, sends message

Posted at 6:48 PM, Sep 04, 2018

TAMPA — Stephen Javaruski Jr. is ready to get back to classes at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

"I got things to do. So, I'm going to get back on track," said Javaruski Jr.

The graduate student's ambition is to be a school counselor and to help kids through trauma. Now he will be able to share his personal experience.

The 22-year-old was at the video gaming tournament when a gunman, identified as 24-year old David Katz, started firing a gun. 

2 victims identified in mass shooting at Jacksonville video game tournament

David Katz: Baltimore man is suspected gunman in shooting at Florida video game tournament

"It happened. It sucks it's going to be with me forever but I'm not going to let it impede my goals in life.  I cannot dwell on it and let it control me," said Javaruski Jr. 

"There's nothing else that you can do, either you can let it consume you and just dwell on it or you can turn it into somewhat of a positive."




The Clearwater native knows that will be difficult. He is in counseling trying to deal with what happened.

"I definitely feel better. I am past the anger stage of grief," said Javaruski Jr.

He is mourning his friends. Jacksonville deputies said two gamers, Elijah Clayton and Taylor Roberston were killed by Katz before he turned the gun on himself.

"I had hid in the bathroom with some 25 other people. When I was finally able to come out,  I looked to my left and I saw Eli in the chair, blood all over him dead," he said. "And then I looked to my right and I saw Taylor on the ground dead."

Javaruski said he did just visit another gamer from Riverview who was shot.

"I went to go see him and he is doing a lot better. But it was a really rough day,"  said Javaruski Jr.

Javaruski said he will play in tournaments again, but he just doesn't know when.

"I have to heal and get my mind right before I head back into that setting again," he said.