Shoot­ing at a Fla. yoga stu­dio leaves 2 dead, 4 in­jured

Po­lice say a man opened fire dur­ing a class be­fore killing him­self

The Washington Post Sunday - - ELECTION 2018 - BY AVI SELK avi.selk@wash­post.com

A man who had been re­peat­edly ac­cused of grop­ing women walked into a yoga class and opened fire on Fri­day evening, Tal­la­has­see po­lice said, shoot­ing six peo­ple and killing two of them.

Po­lice said the shooter, Scott Paul Beierle, 40, killed him­self min­utes be­fore they ar­rived at the Hot Yoga stu­dio, which sits above a row of restau­rants at a north­ern Tal­la­has­see shop­ping cen­ter.

“In my pub­lic ser­vice ca­reer, I have had to be on some bad scenes. This is the worst,” City Com­mis­sioner Scott Mad­dox wrote af­ter see­ing the at­tack’s af­ter­math. “Please pray.”

About a dozen peo­ple were in­side Hot Yoga when a man with a black bag walked in around 5:30 p.m., the Tal­la­has­see Demo­crat re­ported. The stu­dio had ad­ver­tised a Pi­lates cer­ti­fi­ca­tion class for the week­end.

Among the yoga stu­dents were Florida State Univer­sity stu­dent Maura Bink­ley, 21, and 61-yearold Nancy Van Vessem, a lo­cal physi­cian and a fac­ulty mem­ber at Florida State. Both women died of their wounds.

Po­lice were still in­ves­ti­gat­ing a mo­tive be­hind the shoot­ing.

Beierle had been ar­rested twice in the past six years by the univer­sity’s po­lice, ac­cord­ing to crim­i­nal records. The first time was in 2012, when two women ac­cused him of grab­bing their but­tocks on cam­pus, the Demo­crat re­ported. He was de­tained again two years later for tres­pass­ing in a din­ing hall.

About a month af­ter the 2014 ar­rest, Buz­zFeed News re­ported, Beierle posted a se­ries of YouTube videos about his ha­tred of women un­der the name “Scott Carnifex.”

In a video ti­tled “The Re­birth of my Misog­y­nism,” he an­grily re­called an in­ci­dent in his eighth­grade home eco­nom­ics class, de­scrib­ing “the will that a group of fe­males can gen­er­ate when they tar­get any­one, be it an adult male or a class­mate.” Other out­rages in his life in­cluded women who gave him their phone num­bers and later told him they had boyfriends. In one video he iden­ti­fied with El­liott Rodger, an avowed misog­y­nist who killed six peo­ple at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Santa Bar­bara ear­lier that year.

In other videos Beierle spewed racism, ac­cord­ing to the As­so­ci­ated Press. He den­i­grated black women as “dis­gust­ing” and sug­gested plant­ing land mines to stop peo­ple try­ing to cross the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der, the AP said.

Charges were dis­missed for both of Beierle’s univer­sity ar­rests, but he was ar­rested by Tal­la­has­see po­lice in 2016 and agreed to a plea deal for mis­de­meanor bat­tery. He had asked a sun­bather at his apart­ment if he could put lo­tion on her, the Demo­crat re­ported, and groped her when she re­fused.

Sur­vivors said Beierle kept walk­ing in and out of the yoga stu­dio as class be­gan on Fri­day evening, ac­cord­ing to Melissa Hutchin­son, who works at a restau­rant be­low Hot Yoga and later cleaned a sur­vivor’s blood off the kitchen floor.

“They said he just kept com­ing in and out the doors and was a lit­tle sketchy,” Hutchin­son told the Demo­crat. “But no­body said any­thing.”

The man even­tu­ally stopped in the stu­dio’s door­way, pulled a gun from the bag and loaded it in front of the stu­dents. Only then did peo­ple try to flee or fight.

“Ev­ery­one started pound­ing on the win­dows and the walls,” Hutchin­son said. “I heard a cou­ple peo­ple at Ric­cardo’s heard the pound­ing. They weren’t sure what it was. They said it sounds like some­one was hit­ting sheet metal.”

Then the sound of gun­shots fil­tered through the ceil­ing of Ric­cardo’s pizze­ria, Food Glo­ri­ous Food and the other es­tab­lish­ments on the shop­ping cen­ter’s lower level.

Shanta Combs told the Demo­crat she was drink­ing with friends at Bar on Bet­ton when they heard the bar­tender yell: “Ac­tive shooter, get down, get away from the win­dow!”

Pan­icked and wounded peo­ple fled down a stair­case from the stu­dio and ran in­side for shel­ter. Combs said she em­braced a woman who could not stop hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing.

Then “I see this kid in a white T-shirt with blood com­ing out of his fore­head,” Combs said. The per­son in the T-shirt had been pis­tol-whipped while try­ing to fight off the gun­man, po­lice later said.

An­other cus­tomer at the bar, Kristin Ja­cobs, was among sev­eral who praised the sur­vivor’s ac­tions. “I am alive be­cause one guy in a yoga class in his bare feet ran at a shooter,” she told the Demo­crat.

Po­lice said of­fi­cers ar­rived about three min­utes af­ter the 911 call, at 5:40 p.m. Seven peo­ple had been shot in­side the stu­dio, in­clud­ing Beierle, who ap­peared to have killed him­self, po­lice said.

Four of the wounded were ex­pected to sur­vive, in­clud­ing one whom the Demo­crat re­ported had been shot nine times.

Van Vessem, an in­ternist and di­rec­tor for Cap­i­tal Health Plan, also worked at Florida State. Beierle had been barred from that cam­pus af­ter his first grop­ing ar­rest.

“To lose one of our stu­dents and one of our fac­ulty mem­bers in this tragic and vi­o­lent way is just dev­as­tat­ing to the Florida State Univer­sity fam­ily,” school Pres­i­dent John Thrasher said in a state­ment to the AP.

As of­fi­cers shuf­fled in and out of the shop­ping cen­ter be­hind him in the early morn­ing, Tal­la­has­see Po­lice Chief Michael DeLeo told re­porters he did not yet know what con­nec­tion, if any, Beierle had to the vic­tims. Beierle had been liv­ing in Del­tona, on the other side of the state, DeLeo said. In­ves­ti­ga­tors were try­ing to fig­ure out “what made him come to our com­mu­nity and com­mit this heinous act.”

Tal­la­has­see Mayor An­drew Gil­lum, who is the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee for gov­er­nor in Tues­day’s elec­tion, left the cam­paign trail and re­turned to his city overnight to see sur­vivors in the hospi­tal. “No act of gun vi­o­lence is ac­cept­able,” he wrote on Twit­ter. His Repub­li­can op­po­nent, Ron DeSan­tis, called the shoot­ing “heart­break­ing.”

The Tal­la­has­see Demo­crat re­ported that a crowd stood out­side the barricaded shop­ping cen­ter late into the night, some in tears.

“It’s aw­ful that this is a thing,” Hutchin­son told the news­pa­per. “It’s very ter­ri­ble that this is a thing.”

STEVE CAN­NON/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Lo­cal and fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tors comb the scene of a shoot­ing at the Hot Yoga stu­dio in Tal­la­has­see on Fri­day. The two peo­ple killed were mem­bers of the Florida State Univer­sity com­mu­nity: 21-year-old stu­dent Maura Bink­ley and fac­ulty mem­ber Nancy Van Vessem, 61.

LEON COUNTY SHER­IFF’S OF­FICE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Univer­sity po­lice had ar­rested Scott Paul Beierle twice in the past six years, ac­cord­ing to crim­i­nal records.

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