Man opens fire on Florida yoga class, killing two

The Wichita Eagle (Sunday) - - News - BY AVI SELK

A man in Florida who has been re­peat­edly ac­cused of grop­ing women walked into a yoga class and opened fire Fri­day evening, ac­cord­ing to Tal­la­has­see po­lice – shoot­ing six peo­ple and killing two of them de­spite an at­tempt to fight him off.

Po­lice said the shoot­ing sus­pect, Scott Paul Beierle, 40, killed him­self min­utes be­fore they ar­rived at the Hot Yoga stu­dio, which sits above a row of restau­rants at 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 view­ing 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 stu­dents were 21-year-old Maura Bink­ley and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem – re­spec­tively a stu­dent and a fac­ulty mem­ber at Florida State Uni­ver­sity, which mourned them both.

Po­lice were still de­ter­min­ing 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.

Both charges were dis­missed, but Beierle was ar­rested by Tal­la­has­see po­lice in 2016 and that time 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, said 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 re­ports of gun­shots soon 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 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 couldn’t stop hy­per­ven­ti­lat­ing. Then “I see this kid in a white T-shirt with blood com­ing out of his fore­head,” she said.

The “kid” 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 his 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 the first 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.

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

Bink­ley and Van Vessem died of their wounds.

Leon County Sher­iff’s Of­fice

Au­thor­i­ties say Scott Paul Beierle fa­tally shot two be­fore killing him­self.

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