Authorities identify victims and suspect in Tallahassee yoga studio shooting
A man opened fire Friday evening at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, killing two people and injuring five others, before turning the gun on himself, police said.
People inside Hot Yoga Tallahassee appeared to have fought suspected gunman Scott Paul Beierle, 40, of Deltona, Florida, in an effort to save themselves and others, Tallahassee police Chief Michael DeLeo said.
The gunman, who was already dead when officers arrived, died of a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound, the police chief said.
Police identified the two victims killed as Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.
Police received 911 calls about a shooting at 5:37 p.m. Friday — minutes after a hot yoga flow class was scheduled to begin, according to the studio’s website.
When officers arrived, they found that six people were shot and one person had been pistol-whipped.
Two victims were in stable condition, police said early Saturday, and three others had been released from the hospital.
Of the two hospitalized, one was shot nine times, and the other had a bullet pass through her body, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum told reporters. Gillum is the Democratic nominee in the Florida governor’s race.
“The truth is that these occurrences have become far too frequent in our society,” Gillum said. “I would ask that the community continue to lift up the victims, those who are still recovering from their injuries.”
Gillum met the victims Friday night after he returned from a Shabbat service in South Florida honoring the 11 people killed a week ago in a Pittsburgh synagogue.
The gunman in Tallahassee is believed to have acted alone, DeLeo said, and there’s no threat to the community.
It’s unclear what may have motivated the attack, police said.
A doctor and a college student slain
DeLeo said investigators were unable to draw a connection immediately between the gunman and either of the deceased.
Binkley was a student at Florida State University, and Van Vessem was a faculty member at the university’s medical school, WCTV reported.
“There are no words to express the shock and grief we feel after learning of the deaths of Maura Binkley and Dr. Nancy Van Vessem. 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,” Florida State President John Thrasher said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
“We feel this loss profoundly and we send our deepest sympathies to Maura’s and Nancy’s loved ones while we pray for the recovery of those who were injured.”
Van Vessem was a doctor specializing in internal medicine who was chief medical director for Florida’s Capital Health Plan, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.
“As we process the gut-wrenching act of violence that took place this evening in a place of peace in our community, we hold in our hearts everyone who is affected and lift them up in love,” officials tweeted from the city’s verified account.