TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A yoga student is being lauded as a hero for wrestling with a gunman who posed as a customer to get into a yoga studio in Florida and started firing.
Joshua Quick spoke to ABC’s Good Morning America on Sunday and said he grabbed Scott Paul Beierle’s gun after it jammed, and hit him. Tallahassee Police have identified Beierly as the man who entered the Hot Yoga Tallahassee during a Friday night class and started shooting, killing two and wounding six. Police say the 40-year-old Beierle then turned the gun on himself but have offered no motive in the attack.
Quick said Beierle was able to grab the gun back and then pistol-whip him.
“I jumped up as quickly as I could,” said Quick, who had visible injuries on his face. “I ran back over and the next thing I know I’m grabbing a broom, the only thing I can, and I hit him again.”
It created a window of opportunity for some people in the studio to flee.
“Thanks to him I was able to rush out the door,” Daniela Garcia Albalat told Good Morning America. She was in the class and thought she was going to die when the shooting broke out. “He saved my life.”
Two women – a 61-year-old faculty member at Florida State University, and a 21-year-old FSU student from Atlanta who was due to graduate in May – were fatally shot.
Dr. Nancy Van Vessem was an internist who also served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan, the area’s leading health maintenance organization. She was also a faculty member at Florida State and a mother.
Maura Binkley grew up in Atlanta, was a member of a sorority and was studying for a double major in English and German.
He was a brooding military veteran and former teacher, who appeared to have made videos in which he detailed his hatred of everything from the Affordable Care Act to girls who’d allegedly mistreated him in middle school. The videos were posted four years ago, and have been removed from YouTube in the wake of the shooting.
Numerous disturbing details about him emerged over the weekend. He’d once been banned from FSU’s campus and had been arrested twice for grabbing women even though the charges were ultimately dropped.
Beierle, who had moved to the central Florida town of Deltona after getting a graduate degree from FSU, appeared to post a series of videos on YouTube in 2014 where he called women “whores” if they dated black men, said many black women were “disgusting” and described himself as a misogynist.
A Tallahassee police spokesman would not confirm or deny the videos were Beierle’s. However, the man speaking in the videos looks like Beierle and biographical details mentioned in the videos match known facts about Beierle, including details about his military service. Also, the poster’s YouTube username included the word “Scott,” Beierle’s first name. The existence of the videos was first reported by BuzzFeed.
In another video, the man who appeared to be Beierle likened his adolescent self to Elliot Rodger, a 22-year-old who killed six students and wounded more than a dozen others near the University of California, Santa Barbara, before killing himself in 2014.
A woman who filed a police report against Beierle told The Associated Press on Sunday that she’s never forgotten how “creepy” he was.
Courtnee Connon was 18 in 2012 when Scott Paul Beierle grabbed her buttocks in the dining hall at Florida State University. She declined to press charges, however, thinking that he would be scared after an arrest and that she didn’t want to face him in court.
Yoga teachers in the small capital city — and around the country — were stunned and horrified that such a violent act could unfold in a place intended for tranquility, healing and nonviolence.
“It’s a place that brings me joy and peace, and I think it’s ruined,” said Katie Bohnett, an instructor at the yoga studio who skipped her normal Friday practice to meet a friend for dinner. “This monster ruined it.”
Other yoga studios around Florida scheduled classes to help raise money for the victims, and the Florida Yoga Teachers Association set up a Go Fund Me campaign.
The news was front and center on Yoga Journal’s website: “Now, yogis around the world are questioning whether the place they go when events like this happen (read: their yoga studios) are a safe retreat after all.”
Some teachers wondered what they would say to their next class of students.
“As an instructor when you start every class, you ask students to close their eyes to relax, because you’re in such a safe space,” said Amanda Morrison, a 35-year-old yoga instructor in Tallahassee.
She’s scheduled to teach a class Monday, and the safety of her students is on her mind.
“I’m already thinking about locking the doors once class starts,” she said.