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20-year-old accused of flying from New Jersey to Florida to kill fellow online gamer with a hammer

The 20-year-old suspect was charged with attempted second-degree murder for attacking the victim, whom he'd never met in person.
Posted at 5:06 PM, Jun 25, 2024

A 20-year-old faces an attempted second-degree murder charge after Florida authorities said he flew from New Jersey and attacked a fellow gamer with a hammer following an online dispute.

Edward Kang and the victim had never met in person before the attack early Sunday, but they were acquainted through an online video game called ArcheAge, which Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper said during a press conference allows players to fight and kill each other's characters.

Leeper said it's unclear what exactly occurred in the fantasy game to prompt Kang to jump on a flight to the victim's Florida home Thursday evening, but the suspect told authorities after his arrest that the victim "is a bad person online."

"Some things make you say, hmm. Some things you just can't make up," Leeper said during the press conference after calling the case a "weird one." "There are some things that make you say, 'What in the world was he thinking?' And there are some things that make you say, 'You're not going to believe this.' Well, this case makes you say all four of those."

After telling his family he was leaving New Jersey to meet a friend he met through an online video game years ago, Kang landed in Jacksonville from Newark and took an Uber to his hotel in Florida's Fernandina Beach, arriving there at around 2 a.m. June 21. He later went to an Ace Hardware, where he purchased a hammer and a flashlight, receipts found in his hotel room showed, per Leeper.

Then, around 48 hours after his arrival, Kang went to the victim's Fernandina Beach residence and entered through an unlocked door. The unknowing victim had been playing video games in his room when he got up to use the restroom, opened the door and found Kang standing with a hammer raised in the air in an "anticipated strike position" while wearing all black, gloves and a mask, Leeper said.

The hammer Kang allegedly used to assault the fellow gamer is shown.
The hammer Kang allegedly used to assault the fellow gamer is shown.

The victim's stepfather said he was awakened by screams for help and entered his stepson's room to find him struggling on the ground with Kang, still armed with the hammer. The victim and his stepfather were able to disarm and restrain Kang until deputies arrived at around 2 a.m. Sunday, when they discovered significant amounts of blood in the home's entryway and in the victim's bedroom, Leeper said.

The sheriff said both gamers, who are around the same age, were taken to a local hospital and have both been released — Kang into custody and booked into Nassau County Jail. The victim had severe head wounds, but they appeared to be non-life-threatening, Leeper said.

The sheriff said his office believes Kang left New Jersey with the intent to kill the victim and that the suspect's charges of attempted second-degree murder and armed burglary may be upgraded in the future as the investigation continues.

After his arrest, Leeper said Kang asked a deputy how much jail time a person gets for breaking and entering and assault.

"I would say, Mr. Kang, it's going to be a long time before you play video games again," Leeper said during the press conference.

And that's particularly true for ArcheAge. According to an April announcement on its website, the Korean massively multiplayer online role-playing game, also known as an MMORPG, will shut down in Europe and North America on June 27 due to a decline in active players.

"This incident serves a stark reminder of the potential real-world consequences of online interactions," Leeper said during the press conference. "We urge the public to exercise caution, report any suspicious online behavior to the authorities and always ensure that their homes are securely locked."