The man who shot to death two people at a yoga studio in Tallahassee on Friday night was a Deltona resident with a history of violence toward young women, police said.
Scott Paul Beierle, 40, shot six people and pistol whipped another at Hot Yoga Tallahassee on Thomasville Road just after 5:30 p.m., Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said. The gunman then shot and killed himself, DeLeo said.
Police have not identified a motive but are “continuing to follow up the investigative leads for [Beierle] and what made him come to our community and commit this heinous act here,” DeLeo said. It isn’t clear whether Beierle knew the victims.
In a series of YouTube videos from 2014, Beierle ranted against women, nonwhites, gays and police officers. YouTube took down the channel Saturday afternoon, saying it violated the company’s policy on violence.
Volusia County deputies on Saturday executed a search warrant on Beierle’s Deltona home, and multiple search warrants have been obtained on Beierle’s electronic devices and social media profiles, Tallahassee police said.
Police said Beierle, a Florida State University graduate, was staying at a local hotel on Friday before he drove to the yoga studio in a 2015 red Chevrolet and posed as a customer.
Once inside, he started shooting.
Customers tried to fight off Beierle, police said. One of the people killed, Maura Binkley, 21, was a Florida State University student. The other, Nancy Van Vessem, 61, was professor at the FSU College of Medicine.
Two people were hospitalized in stable condition Saturday, DeLeo said. Three had been released.
Beierle worked as a teacher in Maryland for two years, teaching at Meade High School in Anne Arundel County from 2005 to the end of the 2007 school year, county school officials told the Capital newspaper.
He also served in the Army for two years, from January 2008 to June 2010, according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center.
According to Breiele’s LinkedIn profile, which says he’s a military professional from Tallahassee, he listed two masters degrees — in public administration and urban and regional planning -- from FSU in 2013. The profile also says he got his bachelors degree from State University of New York at Binghamton in 2002.
Tallahassee police said law enforcement in the past had responded to calls involving Beierle harassing women.
Beierle was charged with battery in 2016 after he slapped and grabbed a woman’s buttocks at an apartment complex pool. Records show that the charges were eventually dismissed after Beierle followed the conditions of a deferred prosecution agreement.
He was also charged with battery in 2012 for grabbing women’s buttocks in a university campus dining hall. A FSU police report shows that Beierle told police he may have accidentally bumped into someone, but denied grabbing anyone.
In 2014, Beierle was charged with trespassing at FSU. He had been seen following an FSU volleyball coach near the campus gym and was told that he was banned from campus. A month later police found him at a campus restaurant and arrested him.
The owner of Hot Yoga Tallahassee, Brittani Whittington, is also a Central Florida native, Heavy.com reported. Posts on the studio’s Facebook page show she is originally from Apopka, according to the news site.
In Tallahassee, mourners trickled by the Hot Yoga studio on Saturday to lay flowers at the door of the shop.
Olivia Obrecht, one of those who came by, said she was working at the Haute Headz Salon at the front of the shopping complex when the shooting took place. There was a whir of police sirens and then an order for management to lock down the shop.
“I was terrified. I didn’t know what was happening,” Obrecht said. “It just doesn’t seem real.”
The news hit the FSU community hard.
“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,” FSU President John Thrasher said in a statement. “To lose one of our students and one of our faculty members in this tragic and violent way is just devastating to the FSU family.’’
Gillum took a short break from the campaign trail to meet with victims Friday evening but was back to his schedule of rallies Saturday, including one at the University of Central Florida.
At UCF, Gillum began his speech by asking the crowd to “focus [their] hearts and minds” on those recovering from the shooting in Tallahassee.
Gillum and Republican Gov. Rick Scott visited victims in the hospital in Tallahassee on Friday night, a rare sign of nonpartisanship during a heated campaign season.
DeSantis and his allies have slammed Gillum as being soft on crime and anti-police. But in a statement on Twitter on Friday night, DeSantis kept the focus on the victims.
“The news of the shooting in Tallahassee is heartbreaking,” DeSantis posted. “Casey and I are praying for the families of the victim whose life was tragically taken tonight and those taken to the hospital with injuries.’’