The man suspected of shooting two women at a Tallahassee, Florida, yoga studio had been accused of harassing women in the area, according to police, and reportedly made misogynistic remarks on YouTube videos.
In one instance, he was accused of slapping, grabbing and shaking a 19-year-old woman’s backside at a Tallahassee apartment complex’s swimming pool, but the case was not prosecuted.
Scott Paul Beierle, 40, posed as a customer when he walked into Hot Yoga Tallahassee on Friday evening and fired a handgun without warning, police said.
The yoga students fought back, police said, but two women were killed and five people were wounded. The gunman had fatally shot himself by the time officers arrived, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said.
Authorities say it’s not clear why he carried out the attack. Investigators have not discovered any links so far between the gunman and the victims or the yoga studio, DeLeo said. On Saturday, police searched Beierle’s home in Deltona and his electronic devices for clues.
Beierle, who was staying at a local hotel before the attack, was visiting the city but was no stranger to Florida’s capital. He graduated from Florida State University and police said he had been “the subject of prior calls for service in the Tallahassee area related to harassment of young women.”
In videos posted to YouTube in 2014, the man decried interracial relationships, slammed women who wouldn’t date him and identified with “involuntary celibates,” or “incels,” according to The New York Times. CNN has not verified the man in the videos is the gunman.
A search of Florida Department of Law Enforcement and Leon County Circuit Court clerk records shows that FSU campus police arrested Beierle in 2012 on a battery charge and in 2014 on a trespassing charge. Tallahassee police arrested him in 2016, again on a battery charge.
Records from the first two cases were not immediately available, but the clerk’s office said the charge in the 2012 case was dropped, and the 2014 case was disposed of via “other pretrial intervention.” A spokesman for the city of Tallahassee said he had no information on the campus arrests.
In a June 1, 2016, case, Tallahassee police responded to the clubhouse of an apartment complex swimming pool where a woman, 19, told an officer that a tenant at the complex had touched her butt, according to a police report.
The teen was at the pool alone sunbathing when the tenant, later identified a Beierle, sat down next to her and told her she had a “nice butt,” the report says.
“She thanked him and he offered to put sunscreen on it. She told him no thank you, she did not need it,” the report says.
He then asked for her name, she obliged and Beierle “then slapped her butt, and grabbed it then shook it” before hastily exiting the pool area, according to the report.
The victim initially did not want to press charges, the report says, but changed her mind the next day. As detailed in a second police report, the responding officer returned to the complex to view surveillance video, which backed up the victim’s allegations.
Beierle was charged with battery. A Leon County clerk record indicates the case was dismissed in May 2017.
Gunman made misogynistic rants, reports say
In the videos, Beierle recounted instances in which he was rejected by women, The Times reported.
“Made one date, didn’t show up,” he said of one woman. “Made another date, didn’t show up. Kept making excuses. Ah, I could’ve ripped her head off.”
“I don’t think a female can ever understand the societal pressure that’s put on an adolescent male to unburden himself of this stigma that society’s put on him,” he said. “This virginity burden.”
The videos had titles like, “Plight of the Adolescent Male” and “Dangers of Diversity.”
According to the newspaper, Beierle was sympathetic toward Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and wounded 14 others in 2014 near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rodger had written a manifesto in which he lamented his virginity, which he blamed on the “cruelness of women.”
Beierle said that as an adolescent he could relate to “this endless wasteland that breeds this longing and this frustration,” The Times reported.
If the man in the video is Beierle, it wouldn’t be the first time this year an act of violence was perpetrated by someone who hailed Rodger.
According to police, minutes before Alek Minassian killed 10 people in a Toronto van rampage, he posted a Facebook message, saying, “All hail the Supreme Gentleman Elliot Rodger!” Minassian also stated his desire to “overthrow” all the “Chads and Stacys,” incel vernacular for good-looking men and women.
The incel movement is made up almost wholly of men who “can’t have sex despite wanting to” and feel as if they’re unfairly denied sex because they’re unattractive or awkward, according to incels.me.
“In practice this goes beyond simply having sex and enters the realm of having no possibility of finding a partner, either to get validation, love, or acceptance from,” the site states.
Doctor ‘touched countless lives’
Tallahassee yogis as well as the health care and college communities are mourning the two women killed in Friday’s shooting: Maura Binkley, 21, and Nancy Van Vessem, 61.
“Although this shooting happened off campus, it has deeply touched the Florida State University family with two deaths and several injuries. To lose a faculty member and a student and have others injured in this senseless and violent way is absolutely devastating,” Florida State President John Thrasher said in a statement Saturday.
On Sunday evening, FSU students and faculty came together for a vigil honoring Van Vessem and Binkley.
The crowd gathered on Langford Green on Sunday evening and held up battery-powered tea candles that flickered under an overcast sky as a small choir sang, “Hymn to the Garnet and Gold.”
Binkley “knew how to work with people in a positive way,” her father, Jeff Binkley, told CNN.
“She just radiated love for everybody. You could see her life shines through just about everybody she met. That’s consolation to us.”
After the Parkland shooting in February, Binkley stood up against gun violence and went to the Florida Capitol to support the Parkland students as they lobbied for change.
“And she became a victim,” Jeff Binkley said. “It’s a cruel irony. A cruel irony.”
The young woman grew up in the Atlanta area and was attending Florida State University, where she was a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority.
After spending the summer studying in Germany, Binkley was back for what would have been her last year in school. She planned to graduate in May with a double major in English and German, according to her family.
“It’s an attack on good. It’s an attack on peace. It’s an attack on love,” her father said of the shooting. “It’s an attack on the positive elements and values of life.”
Van Vessem was a veteran physician who “touched countless lives.”
A faculty member at Florida State, she was the chief medical director for Florida’s Capital Health Plan, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
She was in charge of coordinating third- and fourth-year clerkship rotations in internal medicine at the school’s medical school, according to the Florida State College of Medicine’s website.
In a Facebook tribute, Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee described her as “a friend and a champion for end-of-life care.”
At Sunday’s vigil, Thrasher said Van Vessem’s daughter said there had never been someone “more selfless, more loving, supportive and fabulous” than her mother.
CNN’s Samira Said, Meridith Edwards, Dianne Gallagher, Dakin Andone, Artemis Moshtaghian, Patrick Cornell and Gianluca Mezzafiore contributed to this report.