A shooter in Florida is dead after opening fire at a hot yoga studio in Tallahassee on Friday evening, killing at least two people and wounding several others before likely killing himself, police said.
But things could have been much worse, if not for a man who charged at the suspect, one nearby witness said.
Florida state Sen. Kristin Jacobs told the Tallahassee Democrat she was attending an office party at a nearby bar when she witnessed people running in from the yoga studio. Jacobs represents Parkland, in Broward County, where a shooter killed 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February.
“One of the first things I heard is there was a shooting,” Jacobs told the paper. She recounted how a man in a bloody white T-shirt ran into the bar and said he had charged at the shooter, who then pistol-whipped him before turning the gun on himself.
“Many people are alive because this guy rushed the shooter,” Jacobs told the Democrat. “I am alive because one guy in a yoga class in his bare feet ran at a shooter. He didn’t run away.”
Responding officers arrived at the scene around 5:30 p.m. and discovered a total of five victims with gunshot wounds, Tallahassee police Chief Michael DeLeo said in a video posted on the department’s Facebook page.
DeLeo confirmed that the suspect is believed to have committed suicide.
“Emergency responders immediately provided aid and transported five victims to local hospitals to receive medical attention. The gunman is deceased with a possible self-inflicted gunshot wound. One victim has passed away at the hospital,” DeLeo said.
The other four injured people were in critical condition, he added.
The two victims were identified early Friday as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, a 61-year-old internist who served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan, and 21-year-old Maura Binkley, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Both Van Vessem and Binkle had ties to Florida State University.
“To lose one of our students and one of our faculty members in this tragic and violent way is just devastating to the Florida State University family,” University President John Thrasher said in a statement obtained by the paper. “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.”
The suspect was identified as 40-year-old Scott Paul Beierle, the paper reported.
Authorities believe that only one suspect was involved and stressed that there was no remaining threat to the area.
“Obviously we’re all very sad and in shock by the events that occurred,” DeLeo said. “But it’s important that people understand there is no immediate threat outside of what has already occurred here this evening.”
An investigation is ongoing into what DeLeo described as “a very dynamic scene.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who are facing off against each other in the state’s governor’s race, both took to Twitter about the shooting.
“The news of the shooting in Tallahassee is heartbreaking,” DeSantis tweeted. “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.”
“I’m deeply appreciative of law enforcement’s quick response to the shooting at the yoga facility in Tallahassee today,” Gillum tweeted. “No act of gun violence is acceptable. I’m in close communication with law enforcement officials and will be returning to Tallahassee tonight.”
Gov. Rick Scott also tweeted, saying he’s been in touch with authorities and will “remain in constant communication.”
Authorities asked that anyone with information about the shooting reach out to the police department.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.