Far-right media misidentifies Jacksonville shooter as Trump-bashing Reddit user

A day after a competitive video gamer shot and killed two people, wounding 10 others, at a Madden video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, a group of far-right news outlets announced that they had found the Reddit account used by the shooter, who they said used the pseudonym "Ravenchamps."

But the groups were wrong.

"Ravenchamps" did not belong to the shooter, who the police say was a Baltimore resident named David Katz and who killed himself in the shooting. And the announcement caused considerable trouble for the real person who owned the account.

The fringe sites Infowars and Gateway Pundit, plus far-right commentator Mike Cernovich and Daily Caller contributor Ian Miles Cheong, claimed that "Ravenchamps" — similar to Katz's frequent video game username "Ravens2012champs" — was operated by the alleged shooter before his death. They pointed to the account's rhetoric that repeatedly slammed the president, along with other political figures, pointing out a comment where Ravenchamps called users "Trumptards."

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Shooting at Jacksonville Landing gaming bar in Florida
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Shooting at Jacksonville Landing gaming bar in Florida
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: Jacksonville Sheriff's boats secure the docks in front of Jacksonville Landing on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: Jacksonville Sheriff's officers patrol around the ships at Jacksonville Landing on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: Jacksonville Sheriff's officers patrol the St. Johns River in front of Jacksonville landing after a shooting on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: Foot and car traffic is forbidden near Jacksonville Landing after a shooting on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Police officers cordon off a street outside The Jacksonville Landing after a shooting during a video game tournament in Jacksonville, Florida August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joey Roulette
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: Jacksonville Sheriff's officers investigate the shooting at Jacksonville Landing on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
Taylor Poindexter speaks to reporters after witnessing a gunman open fire on gamers participating in a video game tournament outside The Jacksonville Landing in Jacksonville, Florida August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joey Roulette
A man holds a sign in support of gun control outside of The Jacksonville Landing after a shooting in Jacksonville, Florida August 26, 2018. REUTERS/Joey Roulette
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: Jacksonville Sheriff officers helps keep the perimeter secure as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar which uses the same entrance as the Chicago Pizza place (seen in the center to the rear) at the Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament and initial reports indicate 3 people were killed including the gunman and several others were wounded. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: Toshiba Sheron talks across the street from Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. Sheron was inside the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament when the shooting occurred. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: A Jacksonville Sheriff crime scene unit's van is seen as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar which uses the same entrance as the Chicago Pizza place (seen behind the van) at the Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament, with initial reports indicating three people dead, including the gunman, and several others wounded. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: Police tape is seen as law enforcement officials investigate a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar located in the Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament and initial reports indicate 3 people were killed including the gunman and several others were wounded. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: The Jacksonville Landing, along the St Johns river, is seen as law enforcement investigates a shooting at the GLHF Game Bar on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament and initial reports indicate 3 people were killed including the gunman and several others were wounded. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 27: A Jacksonville Sheriff officer walks past the GLHF Game Bar where 3 people including the gunman were killed at the Jacksonville Landing on August 27, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. The shooting occurred at the GLHF Game Bar during a Madden 19 video game tournament and initial reports indicate 3 people were killed including the gunman and several others were wounded. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - AUGUST 26: A heavy police presence remains into the night at the shooting outside Jacksonville Landing on August 26, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. A shooting rampage during a Madden 19 video game tournament at the site claimed four lives, with several others wounded, according to published reports. (Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images)
This photo shows a police car behind police tape blocking a street leading to the Jacksonville Landing area in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, August 26, 2018, where two people were killed and 11 others wounded. - Two people were killed and 11 others wounded on August 26 when a video game tournament competitor went on a shooting rampage before turning the gun on himself in the northern Florida city of Jacksonville, local police said. Sheriff Mike Williams named the suspect of the shooting at a Madden 19 American football eSports tournament as 24-year-old David Katz from Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Gianrigo MARLETTA / AFP) (Photo credit should read GIANRIGO MARLETTA/AFP/Getty Images)
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But the real owner of the account was a Minnesota native named Pavel, who returned to Reddit on Monday to see dozens of people claiming he was dead.

"I went on Reddit. I noticed I had 60, 70 unread messages. Usually I have two or something," Pavel, who didn't give his last name out of privacy concerns, told NBC News on Monday night. "I look at the messages and it's a bunch of people using my username claiming I'm that Madden shooter person. Half of them are messages like 'I hope that person's dead.'

Responding to a user who said "ravenchamps was his profile, see for yourself," Ravenchamps wrote back.

"I'm alive you know?" he wrote.

Pavel then went to Reddit's AskMeAnything board to answer questions about everything from his favorite TV show to what it was like to have all of his old opinions shared across the web as a possible motive of a mass shooting.

"Confused at first, now I'm just laughing about it," he wrote.

Shortly after Pavel started tweeting, Gateway Pundit appended two question marks to the headline of their story tying him to the shooting, which now reads: "Jacksonville Shooter Was Member of Anti-Trump 'Resistance'?? - Murdered 3 People (UPDATE)."

This is not the first time Gateway Pundit has misidentified someone who committed an attack or mass shooting. The site said the Charlottesville car attack was conducted by an "anti-Trump protester" who in reality was hundreds of miles away at the time of the attack. The site also named the wrong person in the Las Vegas mass shooting, and spun an elaborate conspiracy based on an anonymous Twitter post which identified the wrong person in a mass shooting at the airport in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in January 2017.

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Victims of Jacksonville shooting remembered on social media
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Victims of Jacksonville shooting remembered on social media
This guy had a family.. He loved the game of madden and wanted to earn from it.. Rest In Piece spotmeplzzz - https://t.co/nPHqtTSPOk
Our hearts are broken as we learned that former Calabasas Football player @True__818 (Elijah Clayton) was senseless… https://t.co/eY2wnp0KpF
RIP @True__818 Elijah Clayton. One of my best friends in life. I talked to u almost everyday for the last 5 years.… https://t.co/1fYOprBNK0
Chaminade College Prep put out a statement regarding former student Elijah Clayton, who was one of 2 victims killed… https://t.co/VmGu0pXftm
The #Titans community lost a beloved member over the weekend. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Tay… https://t.co/gKuG7EvHks
Taylor Robertson, one of the victims in the #Jacksonville shooting today, was from Ballard, WV. Taylor was very clo… https://t.co/lptS4bmQBg
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Cernovich, an early promoter of the "pizzagate" conspiracy theory who has been touring Arizona with Republican Senate candidate Kelli Ward, was cited in the Gateway Pundit article saying Katz was a "member of the Resistance," pointing to Pavel's Reddit account. Cernovich has since apologized, adding, "The mass shooter's Reddit handle is different from one that previously circulated."

Infowars, a purveyor of conspiracy theories that was recently banned from Facebook and YouTube, blasted "Jacksonville Madden Shooter Criticized 'Trumptards' on Reddit" in their headline, and claimed he "hated Trump supporters."

Pavel, who is mostly on Reddit to talk about football and video games, said he came home from some errands after his factory job on Monday night to learn that all of his comments had been pored over by fringe websites and fellow Reddit users. He praised some users for their "good detective" work, identifying the Minnesota plates on a picture of his Mazda, which he uploaded to a car subreddit years ago.

"Some people really dug in there," he said. "I was like, 'You guys are really interested in me.'"

Pavel, whose identity NBC News was independently able to confirm through a phone records search, said it was the "weirdest Monday, internet-wise" he's ever had, and he was going to spend the rest of the night "making some mixies and calling out some idiots."

When he refreshed his browser, he had 70 more messages to respond to since the start of the phone call.

"My takeaway on this is there are a lot of idiots on the internet who come to conclusions over no factual evidence," he said.

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