yoga studio shooting florida

Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat via AP

Gunman kills 2, wounds 5 before shooting self at Florida yoga studio

November 03, 2018 - 11:28 am
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Two people were shot to death and five others wounded at a yoga studio in Florida's capital by a gunman who then killed himself, authorities said.

The two slain Friday included a student and faculty member at Florida State University, according to university officials.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters Friday night that the man shot six people and pistol-whipped another after walking into the studio, which is part of a small Tallahassee shopping center.

The suspect then fatally shot himself, DeLeo said.

Early Saturday morning, the Tallahassee Police Department identified the shooter as Scott Paul Beierle, 40.

The department identified the two slain as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.

Van Vessem was an internist who served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.

DeLeo said the shooter acted alone and authorities are investigating possible motives. He declined to say what kind of gun the shooter had.

"We're all very saddened and shocked by the events that occurred, but it's important that people understand that there is no immediate threat outside of what has already occurred this evening," DeLeo said.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox said on Facebook, "In my public service career I have had to be on some bad scenes. This is the worst. Please pray."

Neighborhood resident Elle Welling said she saw at least three people loaded into ambulances as she was leaving a liquor store across the street.

"You don't think about this in Tallahassee and now you have to," said Welling, 26.

Erskin Wesson, 64, said he was eating dinner with his family at a restaurant located below the yoga studio when they heard the gunshots above them.

"We just heard 'pow, pow, pow, pow,'" Wesson said. "It sounded like a limb falling on a tin roof and rolling."

The restaurant's owner came by a short time later, asking if anyone was a doctor, Wesson said. His step-daughter is an emergency room nurse and helped paramedics for about an hour, he said.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for governor, broke off the campaign trail to return to Tallahassee. He earlier appeared at a campaign event with former President Barack Obama.

Late Friday night, Gillum told reporters near the crime scene that he had made hospital visits to two people wounded at the yoga studio. The mayor said they were in good spirits despite their injuries.

Gillum asked residents to pray for the survivors and those who were killed.

"We all feel a sense of added vulnerability" because of the shooting, the mayor said.

Tallahassee's crime rate has been an issue in the governor's race. Gillum's opponent, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, has called the capital Florida's most crime-ridden city — a claim that is incorrect.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.