The parents of video game shooter David Katz clashed bitterly over how to treat their son’s burgeoning mental health ‘crisis’ – his mother dosing him with powerful anti-psychotic drugs while his father argued that he didn’t ‘have any psychiatric problems’, according to court documents obtained by DailyMail.com.
Katz, 24, opened fire on Sunday after being knocked out of a ‘Madden 19’ video game tournament being hosted in a pizzeria in Jacksonville, Florida. Eli Clayton, 22, of California, and Taylor Robertson, 27, of West Virginia, were killed before Katz committed suicide.
Katz, who drove to Florida from his home in Baltimore, Maryland, had legally purchased a handgun and a 9mm pistol in the weeks leading up to the shooting, Jacksonville Sheriff’s Department confirmed.
His mental health problems appear to have stemmed from childhood.
Howard County Circuit Judge Lenore Gelfman wrote in 2010: ‘David would go days without bathing, would play video games until 4am on school nights, would walk around the house in circles.
‘[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.’
Shooter: Jacksonville gaming convention shooter David Katz, 24,(left ) is believed to have been living alone with his NASA engineer father Richard (right).
Bitter dispute: The battling parents’ differing positions on their son’s mental health were set out in hundreds of pages of legal documents in court in Columbia, MD
At one point, when his mother attempted to take away his video game controllers, he punched a hole through her bedroom door to retrieve them, she told the court.
His parents Elizabeth Katz, 60, and Richard Katz, 58, separated in 2005 when David was 12 and their elder son Brandon was 16.
In court documents, Richard Katz accused his ex-wife of verbal abuse and adultery.
The prolific filings at Howard County Circuit Court in Maryland reveal the estranged couple were in deep conflict for years over their marriage breakdown and at odds over how to deal with their son’s troubling issues.
A filing from April 2006, by Richard Katz’s attorney, reads: ‘Elizabeth Katz is giving the children medicines that pose significant and unknown risks to the children.
‘For example, David Katz is being given a medication called Risperidone, whose brand name is Risperdal.’
Richard Katz, a NASA engineer, said that the medication is an anti-psychotic used to treat schizophrenia.
He quoted the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying that no studies have been done on giving this medication to children.
‘Richard Katz has seen no evidence whatsoever of schizophrenia in David Katz. David seems well aware of reality at all time… Indeed, Elizabeth Katz provides no evidence whatever showing that either child is suffering from schizophrenia,’ the filing reads.
Richard Katz also alleged that his ex-wife was treating David with ‘Fluxetine’ – marketed as Prozac – and again noted NIH studies, that children who take anti-depressants are ‘more likely to think about harming or killing themselves or plan to do so than children who do not take antidepressants’.
In May 2006, Elizabeth Katz, who worked as a toxicologist for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, requested the appointment of a guardian for her children after a disagreement between the parents about their ‘psychiatric and psychological treatment’ and ‘the sanctity of the children’s psychiatric records’.
‘The minor children are both under the care of therapists who have prescribed medication for the children intended to address the children’s affective disorders,’ the filing reads.
Home: David Katz was living with his father Richard in his Inner harbor condo in Baltimore, MD
Mother: Elizabeth Katz lives in this Columbia, MD, home. Court documents show she believed her son had an ‘affective disorder’ aged just 12
High school problems: Court documents show: ‘[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.’
Elizabeth Katz alleged that her husband told David not to cooperate with his therapist.
‘At the present time the minor child David is, as described by his therapist, to be experiencing a ‘psychiatric crisis’, the filing states.
‘David has suffered with depression, which depression has recently escalated to the extent that the depression is…interfering with David’s ability to attend school and has effected [sic] his eating, sleeping, communication and willingness to even get out of bed.’
The mother claimed that her ex-husband had prevented her son from receiving therapy and ‘has stated that David does not have any psychiatric problems’.
In April 2006, while attending Glenelg Country School in Maryland, the principal recommended that David not return until he had ‘straightened things out’ – but his father insisted he continue to attend, according to court papers.
In May 2006, Richard Katz opposed his ex-wife’s attempt to get an injunction and prevent him ‘from having access to any medical records of children in the future’.
The father claimed she had diagnosed their sons with ‘affective disorders’, alleging: ‘Whether or not children suffer from an affective disorder is a matter to be determined by a mental health expert. There is no evidence that Elizabeth Katz is a mental health expert.’
In an affidavit on May 7, 2006, Richard Katz wrote: ‘David has informed me that he does not want to take the psychiatric drugs, they make him feel worse, and is making efforts to refuse them. I was unaware of David’s efforts to avoid taking these drugs until I was informed of them by David. I have not seen evidence of schizophrenia in David Katz.
‘Elizabeth Katz purchased medications for David after a single visit with the prescribing doctor, during which the doctor was given information that was not correct or significantly exaggerated.’
He continued: ‘I believe that Ms. Katz is not acting in the actual best interests of the children and that her conduct is inappropriate and suggestive of a possible mental disorder.
‘This includes, in response to David refusing to take the psychiatric drugs, dragging David to the car where David locked himself in as he sought safety.’
The father claimed that this resulted in emergency services being sent to the family home and ‘a paramedic told David that David would be put in handcuffs by the police if the police had to take David out of the car and take him to the hospital.’ David Katz was 12 at the time.
Eli Clayton, 22, and Taylor Robertson, 27, were both killed in the shooting
A classmate who attended Glenelg, an independent middle school in Ellicott City, Maryland, revealed to DailyMail.com that David Katz was picked on by other students. ‘I can tell you that he was bullied,’ the classmate, who did not wish to be named, said.
‘And to bullied at our school you have to be weird to the other kids in your grade.’
Kevin Pham, 25, who attended Hammond High School in Columbia with Katz, said he had a similar reputation there for being ‘weird’. ‘I thought he was just a normal kid,’ he said of Katz, who graduated in 2011.
‘We had a class together and I remember him quietly laughing at some of my jokes. ‘We would say he looked like Jim from The Office, only with a baby face.
‘He didn’t get in any trouble that I know of. He just went to school and went home, there was nothing remarkable about him.
‘When I heard he was the shooter I was confused more than anything. I didn’t know he loved video games. ‘I’m a very good Madden player and had I known he was that good I would definitely have challenged him. We could have been friends.’
Court records also revealed that the Katzes tried a multitude of ways to get David adequate care.
He had been placed in psychiatric care in Townson and Rockville, Maryland and at one point sent to a ‘therapeutic wilderness school’ for teenagers in Utah.
Neither Richard Katz or Elizabeth Katz could be reached for comment by DailyMail.com after multiple attempts.