A Tallahassee man opened fire in a yoga studio on Friday. He killed two, wounded four more and pistol whipped another man. The shooter then killed himself. As The State reports,
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.
The Democrat also reported that Florida State University President John Thrasher said Van Vessem and Binkley had ties to the university.
It isn’t clear whether any of the victims were specifically targeted by the shooter, who were both associated with FSU, but he’d been arrested a number of times for harassing people on and near the campus. Despite the arrests, though, prosecutors dropped charges in at least four prior cases against him.
40-year-old Scott Beierle was arrested in 2012 and again in 2016 on misdemeanor battery charges. Court records show in both cases, he was accused of grabbing women’s buttocks.
The 2012 incident happened in a dining hall on Florida State’s campus. Court records show a woman accused him of grabbing her while she was at a soda fountain and a second woman said he’d done the same to her three times in the past month. Court records show those charges were later dropped.
The 2016 incident happened at the University Trails apartments where Beierle lives. Court records show he asked a woman sunbathing by the pool if he could rub sunscreen on her buttocks. When she said no, court documents say he grabbed her buttocks and left. Beierle signed a deferred prosecution agreement in that case and charges were ultimately dropped six months later.
Court records also show Beierle was arrested for trespassing at an FSU dining hall in 2014. Those documents show Beierle had an active campus-wide trespass warning against him at the time.
The shooter is believed by investigators to have purchased his gun legally, something he likely couldn’t have done if some or all of those cases had been fully prosecuted.
Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s running for governor in Florida, had this to say last night:
No comment yet on why the city’s criminal justice system failed to fully prosecute the shooter at least four times. Though given Gillum’s full-throated attacks against the National Rifle Association and gun rights in general, it seems a sure bet that he’ll be using this tragedy as support for his anti-gun position in the last couple of days of the campaign.