Green Bay (WBAY) – “You just keep on hearing the shots. And then everybody just started scrambling, and there was four people lying on top of me.”
Just days after the deadly shooting at a Jacksonville, Florida gaming competition, a Green Bay native, and survivor of the shooting spree, is telling his story.
For the past decade, Kyle Riederer has used Madden video games as his outlet.
“When I first got started, it was right after my dad had a bad accident. So it kind of helped me cope with that a lot,” Riederer tells Action 2 News.
But Sunday afternoon, that happy pastime changed to something much darker.
“Every time I’m going to play, it’s what I’m going to think about. It’s what I’m going to see,” Riederer explains.
Known worldwide as “Drag” in the gaming community, Riederer was visiting Jacksonville for a Madden gaming competition, when his life changed forever.
“I was in the middle of my third round game,” Riederer remembers. “I was probably ten to 15 feet away from it. And just in the middle of playing, and then you just hear the first pop. We don’t even know what it was. We all thought like a balloon popped, or something dropped.”
Riederer says his memory of the shooting is a blur, on constant replay in his mind.
“My friend Taylor was one of the ones who passed away, he was on my team,” he says. “And he was sharing my hotel room with me. I didn’t know it was him, but I had to step over him as I was walking out.”
28-year-old Taylor Robertson, and 22-year-old Elijah Clayton, who Riederer affectionately calls “Eli,” were killed in the shooting.
10 others were injured, before police say the shooter, 24-year-old David Katz, turned the gun on himself.
“Everybody tries to talk to him, we’re a close community. You say, ‘What’s up?’ or, ‘How’s it going?’ I don’t know. He’s never really said much,” Riederer says of Katz. “He’s always kept to himself, like isolated from everybody.”
As for Robertson and Clayton, Riederer says he was close with them both.
“I have Taylor’s belongings because he was with me. I’m going to be sending it back to his wife. But I just wanted to make sure that I brought them home, so that they could get them back,” he says. “They were just really, really good people. Taylor had a newborn son, and a wife, a great job. And Eli has his family out in California. And now they just don’t have them anymore. And I wish I could help ease that pain for them. I know I can’t, but I wish I could.”
Riederer arrived home safely in Titletown Monday night.
“Just seeing my wife and my family in the airport, it was the best moment of my life. I couldn’t keep it together. I broke down,” he explained.
At first, he vowed never to play Madden again. But now, Riederer says he owes it to his friends, to keep their memory alive.
“We all know it’s what we love to do. And it’s what Taylor and Eli loved to do. And we can’t let, what he did … we can’t let that affect what we love doing.”
Riederer says he has donated all of his 2018 winnings to the families of Robertson and Clayton. He says the gaming community is also working to make t-shirts and bracelets in their memory.