New Jersey Gamer Flew to Florida to Attack Rival With Hammer, Police Say

A New Jersey man who the police said had flown to Florida and attacked a fellow gamer with a hammer over an online dispute was charged with attempted second-degree murder on Sunday.

The man, Edward Kang, 20, of New Jersey, was taken into custody early on Sunday morning after he arrived at the fellow gamer’s house around 2 a.m. that same day and attacked the victim with a hammer, Sheriff Bill Leeper of Nassau County, Fla., said at a news conference on Monday.

Sheriff Leeper said that Mr. Kang had never met the gamer he attacked in person, but that they knew each other from playing ArcheAge, a fantasy online game where players pursued their own adventures of exploration and conquest in a mythical world. An arrest report identified the target of Mr. Kang’s attack as Zachary Dinh, who declined to comment on Tuesday.

It was unclear what interactions Mr. Kang and Mr. Dinh had online. Sheriff Leeper said that the episode “originated from an online altercation.”

Sheriff Leeper said that in ArcheAge characters can be created to fight and kill one another.

“I don’t know what transpired between the victim and the suspect, but something made the suspect want to come down to Florida and injure the other individual,” he said.

ArcheAge will shut down on Friday for users in Europe and North America, according to the game’s website. The makers of the game cited a declining number of players in a statement from April.

Mr. Dinh was treated at a hospital for severe head wounds and has since been released from the hospital, Sheriff Leeper said.

In addition to the attempted murder charge, Mr. Kang was charged with armed burglary. Mr. Kang, who was also injured in the attack, received medical treatment and was taken to Nassau County Jail in Yulee, Fla., where he was being held without bond.

There was no lawyer listed for Mr. Kang in arrest records. A call to his family went unanswered on Tuesday afternoon.

The online dispute turning into an attempted murder case raised eyebrows for local law enforcement, the sheriff said.

“This is a weird one,” Sheriff Leeper said during the news conference. “Some things make you say, ‘Hmm.’ Some things, you just can’t make up. 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.’ This case makes you say all four of those.”

Sheriff Leeper said that Mr. Kang flew from Newark Liberty International Airport to Jacksonville International Airport, and checked into a hotel in Fernandina Beach, Fla., on Friday. Mr. Kang had told his family that he was going to visit an old friend in Florida, Sheriff Leeper said.

At some point over the weekend, Mr. Kang went to a hardware store in the area and bought a hammer and a flashlight, Sheriff Leeper said. Receipts for the items were later found in his hotel room.

Mr. Kang was dressed in all black, wearing gloves and a mask, when he arrived at Mr. Dinh’s home in Fernandina Beach early on Sunday morning, Sheriff Leeper said. Mr. Kang was able to enter the home because a door was unlocked, he said.

Once inside, Mr. Kang found Mr. Dinh and began attacking him with the hammer, Sheriff Leeper said.

According to the arrest report, Mr. Dinh’s stepfather was awakened in the middle of the night by his screams for help.

“When he went to see what was going on, he found his stepson on the ground struggling with the attacker,” Sheriff Leeper said.

Mr. Dinh and his stepfather were able to subdue Mr. Kang and restrain him until the police arrived, Sheriff Leeper said.

After Mr. Kang was taken into custody, he was allowed to call his mother, according to the arrest report. During the phone call, which was recorded and later translated from Korean to English, Mr. Kang admitted to the attack and told his mother that he did not plan to kill Mr. Dinh, the arrest report states.

While in custody, Mr. Kang was asked by a police deputy why he had attacked Mr. Dinh, according to the arrest report.

Mr. Kang told the police, “He is a bad person online.”

Kirsten Noyes contributed research.

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