Tallahassee police chief holds a news conference about the yoga studio shootings
On Friday night, a 40-year-old gunman walked into Hot Yoga Tallahassee and began shooting.
He shot six people and pistol-whipped another after walking into the studio, which is part of a small Tallahassee shopping center.
The shooter, who has been identified as military veteran Scott Paul Beierle, killed Maura Binkley, 21, and Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and wounded five others before killing himself.
“Our city is in shock as this unspeakable violence continues to spread throughout our country. Please pray for the victims’ recovery and the families and friends impacted by this tragic loss. Please pray for our city to heal from this needless act of violence,” Tallahassee pastor Bruce Ferris posted on Facebook.
Authorities continued to search for a motive Saturday morning.
Here is what we know, so far, about the two victims who died:
Nancy Van Vessem
Van Vessem was an internist who served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan.
According to her profile on Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare’s website, she graduated with her medical degree from Saint Louis University School of Medicine in 1983 and began her internship at the University of Utah Medical Center in 1984 and a residency in 1985 at the University of Utah Medical Center and a year later at Loyola University Medical Center.
Capital Health Plan issued a statement praising Van Vessem.
“As CHP’s longtime chief medical director, Nancy has been a guiding, visionary force in our daily work to serve the wellness and health care needs of thousands of families in this community. Her dedication, caring, leadership, humanity, and experience made her one of the most respected, inspiring, and accomplished medical professionals in the state and country. Our hearts are filled with sorrow and prayers for her family. We all have been so blessed to have Nancy in our lives,” the company said.
Florida State University President John Thrasher says Van Vessem and Binkley had ties to the university, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Dr. Van Vessem was responsible for coordinating the third and fourth year clerkship rotations in Internal Medicine at FSU’s Tallahasseee campus, according to the university’s directory.
“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. 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,” Thrasher said on Twitter.
Maura Binkley graduated from Dunwoody High School, an Atlanta suburb in Georgia’s DeKalb County in May 2015.
Her Facebook page shows many senior year photos in Facebook albums, and started at FSU in August 2015. Binkley was a senior with an English and German double major, according to the school.
Over the summer, Binkley participated in the FSU Summer Global Exchange and earned FSU credits at the University of Wuppertal in Germany, Florida State University News reported in August. While abroad, Binkley studied with German students as she traveled to Berlin and Amsterdam.
The last post visible to non-friends on her Facebook page was an updated profile photo on Aug. 24.
On the recent post, friends commented on the pretty blond student’s appearance, one going beyond a comment on her outward appearance: “You are so beautiful inside and out.”
In another post from 2016, friends said her pictures on a beach should be in a magazine. She deflected the compliment. “TBH the beach just had really good fortunate lighting,” Binkly wrote.In 2017, Binkley played in a Tri Delta sponsored dodgeball tournament to benefit St. Jude’s fight against cancer.
When she was in high school, she wrote several stories that were published in a community newspaper. One feature was a profile of a standout student from her school in 2013 for the Reporter Newspapers.
The group Students Demand Action FSU plan a campus candlelight community vigil at the Westcott Fountain at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Miami Herald staff writer Martin Vassolo contributed to this report
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