Gunman kills two and himself at Florida yoga studio

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A gunman killed two people and wounded five others at a yoga studio in Florida before killing himself, officials said.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters that the man shot six people and pistol-whipped another after walking into the studio, which is part of a small shopping centre, on Friday evening.

The suspect then turned the gun on himself, Mr DeLeo said.

Early on Saturday morning, the Tallahassee Police Department identified the gunman as Scott Paul Beierle, 40.

The two people who were killed were named as Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.

Dr Van Vessem was an internist who served as chief medical director for Capital Health Plan, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.

Capital Health Plan paid tribute in a statement: “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.

Yoga Studio Shooting Florida
Officers at the scene in Florida’s capital (Steve Cannon/AP)

“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.

“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,” Mr Thrasher said in a statement.

Mr DeLeo said police are asking for anyone who saw something unusual around the time of the shooting to contact police.

He said the gunman acted alone and authorities are investigating possible motives. He declined to say what kind of weapon was used.

Yoga Studio Shooting Florida
Tallahassee police chief Michael DeLeo speaks to the press at the scene of a shooting (Steve Cannon/AP)

Melissa Hutchinson said she helped treat a “profusely” bleeding man who rushed into a bar after the incident. She said three people from the studio ran in, and they were told there was an active gunman.

“It was a shocking moment something happened like this,” she said.

The people who came in were injured, including the bleeding man who was pistol-whipped while trying to stop the gunman.

They told her the shooter kept coming in and out of the studio. When he loaded his gun, people started pounding the windows of the studio to warn people.

City Commissioner Scott Maddox was on the scene. He said on Facebook: “In my public service career I have had to be on some bad scenes. This is the worst. Please pray.”

Elle Welling said she was leaving a liquor store across the street from the shopping centre and saw at least three people loaded into ambulances.

“You don’t think about this in Tallahassee and now you have to,” said the 26-year-old, who lives locally.

The plaza is home to popular restaurants, a jewellery store, a framing shop, a hair salon and other businesses.

Yoga Studio Shooting Florida
Police investigators work at the scene (Steve Cannon/AP)

“We just heard ‘pow, pow, pow, pow’,” he said. “It sounded like a limb falling on a tin roof and rolling.”

The restaurant’s owner arrived a short time later, asking if anyone was a doctor, Mr Wesson said. His stepdaughter is an emergency room nurse and helped paramedics for about an hour, he added.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is the Democratic nominee for governor, broke off the campaign trail to return to Tallahassee. He had earlier appeared at a campaign event with former president Barack Obama.

Late on Friday night, Mr Gillum spoke to reporters near the scene of the shooting to say that he had visited in the hospital two people who were shot at the yoga studio. The mayor said they were in good spirits despite their injuries.

He asked residents to pray for those who survived and those who were killed in the shooting.

“We all feel a sense of added vulnerability” because of the shooting, the mayor said.

Yoga Studio Shooting Florida
Police at the scene after the shooting in Tallahassee, Florida (Tori Schneider/Tallahassee Democrat/AP)

“I will remain in constant communication with law enforcement. We have offered state assistance,” he tweeted.

Tallahassee’s crime and murder rate has been an issue in the governor’s race, with Mr Gillum’s opponent, Republican Ron DeSantis, calling the capital Florida’s most crime-ridden city, a claim that is incorrect.

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