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FBI received warning about gunman in yoga studio shooting, police say

An investigation shows the gunman planned the attack in advance and was expecting to die once it was over.
Police investigate the scene of a shooting at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida
Police investigate the scene of a shooting at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Florida, on Nov. 2, 2018.Steve Cannon / AP

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Wrapping up a three-month investigation, Florida authorities said Tuesday that a man who killed two people and injured five others in a yoga studio was a "disturbed individual" with a "hatred towards women."

Tallahassee police said after conducting dozens of interviews and reviewing thousands of pages of documents they found no evidence that Scott Paul Beierle, 40, targeted anyone specifically in the frenzied shooting that happened Nov. 2.

But the investigation found that Beierle — who police said had a pattern of sexual misconduct stretching back to grade school — planned the attack in advance and was expecting to die once it was over. Authorities also said he had a history of accessing yoga-related pornography. Materials authored by him included themes of rape, torture and murder. A website he maintained prompted one woman to alert the FBI months before the shooting.

Shortly before sunset, Beierle posed as a customer attending the yoga class in an upscale shopping center located in Tallahassee's trendy midtown area. Once in the class, he took a gun out of a bag he brought with him and began shooting. A 61-year-old faculty member at Florida State University and a 21-year-old FSU student from Georgia were killed after he shot them from behind. Four others were shot and another was pistol-whipped. Beierle, who had previously attended FSU but had moved to central Florida, then killed himself.

"Scott Beierle was a disturbed individual who harbored hatred towards women," said Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo. "Although there was no specific target at the yoga studio on the night of Nov. 2, Scott Beierle's lifetime of misogynistic attitudes caused him to attack a familiar community where he had been arrested several times for his previous violent action towards women."

Image: Scott Beierle
Florida yoga studio gunman Scott Beierle is seen in this mugshot from 2016.Leon County Sheriff's Office

In the years leading up to the attack, Beierle had been kicked out of the military, arrested and fired from a job as a substitute teacher. Police said during his time in the U.S. Army, he was investigated for inappropriate contact with female soldiers. He was honorably discharged in 2010 for "unacceptable conduct." In 2012, he was arrested twice for grabbing women on FSU's campus.

He was fired from a job with Leon County schools because he sought pornographic material while he worked as a teacher. He was fired in 2018 from Volusia County schools because he touched a female student inappropriately.

Beierle was a military veteran with degrees from Binghamton University and Florida State University. Raised in Vestal, New York, he appeared to have made videos detailing his hatred of everything from the Affordable Care Act to girls who'd allegedly mistreated him in middle school. The videos were removed from YouTube after the shooting.

Police did say that the investigation showed the wife of a friend of Beierle submitted a tip about him to the FBI in August 2018 after seeing the content of his website. But DeLeo said that the FBI determined the tip was "non actionable."

Nearly three weeks before the shooting, Beierle booked his hotel room. Then on Halloween, he bought a yoga mat at a Walmart in central Florida before driving that day to Tallahassee. Two days later, surveillance video showed he left the hotel wearing a fanny pack and carrying a black bag. DeLeo said it was obvious that he had no plans to return because Beierle left behind his two hotel keys as well as files and records in the room.

He had nearly 100 rounds, but during the attack one of the victims struck him with a vacuum cleaner. During the struggle, Beierle's gun malfunctioned and people were able to escape. As one injured victim pretended to be dead on the floor, she told police she heard him say something before hearing a single gunshot. She looked up and saw him laying on top of one the people he killed.

"This could have been even worse than it was," DeLeo said.