Scott Paul Beierle was an odd loner and self-described misogynist who had a history of arrests for grabbing young women around the campus of Florida State University.
Beierle, who turned 40 last month, shot and killed two people and wounded five others Friday at a Midtown Tallahassee yoga studio before turning his handgun on himself. Officer Damon Miller, a spokesman for the Tallahassee Police Department, said investigators are trying to determine a motive.
Miller said Beierle, a former Tallahassee resident, was residing in Deltona but was staying at a local hotel. Officers searched his hotel room and his residence in Volusia County and obtained search warrants for his electronic devices and social media profiles. They also appealed to the public for any information about the gunman.
“Investigators have been working around the clock to uncover more information and gain clarity as to why this senseless act occurred,” Miller said.
Beierle had ties to Tallahassee through Florida State University. His LinkedIn page says that after serving in the U.S. Army from 2008 to 2010, he earned master’s degrees in 2013 in public administration and planning. He earned a bachelor’s degree at the University of New York at Binghamton and previously resided in Vestal, New York.
Miller said Beierle arrived at the Hot Yoga Tallahassee studio in a red Chevrolet Sonic and posed as a customer before opening fire on patrons without warning. He died at the scene of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Beierle lived for several years at a West Tennessee Street apartment complex, where he didn’t fit in easily with the younger students around him. Big and imposing — he was at least 6 foot 2 and 240 pounds — he walked with a strange exaggerated gait, wore shorts with white socks pulled up high and often made inappropriate comments to women.
Julien Brown said he and a friend lived with Beierle for roughly a year starting in the fall of 2011, when they arrived as freshmen and couldn’t get into the dorms. They didn’t choose to live with Beierle — the apartment complex, now called Alight West Tenn, assigned him as their roommate.
Beierle was odd and obnoxious. He appeared friendless — no one ever came to visit him, Brown said. He sat around in the living room in his briefs drinking beer, refusing to put on pants even when friends of his roommates came over. Sometimes, he stayed up all night watching TV and laughing loudly at the screen. Other nights, he could be heard screaming in his sleep.
Brown knew Beierle had a military background from a Facebook photo he posted showing him with an assault rifle with a tank in the background. He figured Beierle was mentally ill and perhaps suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome. But Beierle wasn’t violent, and Brown didn’t have anything concrete to take to law enforcement.
“He was very weird and made everyone uncomfortable,” Brown said. “It worried me at the time. There was concern for sure. But there wasn’t enough evidence, and I would have been wasting the police’s time if I had made any kind of report. I had nothing.”
Beierle made inappropriate comments when Brown or his other roommate had girlfriends over. It got to the point that Brown and his roommate wouldn’t leave any of their guests, male or female, alone with Beierle.
“We compared him to Ted Bundy back then,” Brown said. “It was the way he lurked and followed girls.”
History of arrests
Beierle was arrested twice, in 2012 and 2016, for grabbing the buttocks of young women on campus and at his apartment complex, according to Leon County court records. In both of the cases, prosecutors ultimately dropped the charges.
On June 1, 2016, Tallahassee police were called to the apartment complex on West Tennessee Street and made contact with a young woman who had been laying out by the pool. She said she was lying on her stomach when a man later identified as Beierle sat down beside her and told her she had “a nice butt.”
“He asked her if he could put sunscreen on it,” the police report says. “She thanked him but told him no. The suspect then introduced himself and said nice to meet you. He then slapped her butt, grabbed it and shook it. The suspect then got up and left the pool area.”
Officers confirmed the woman’s account through pool security video and tried to make contact with Beierle but were unable.
The video showed the incident happened just as the woman had described it, according to the police report. An officer went to speak with Beierle and could hear the TV through the front door.
“He knocked on the door and the TV turned off and someone walked to the front door,” the police report says. “The person inside of the apartment then walked away and refused to open the door.”
On Dec. 7, 2012, FSU police were called to the Suwannee Room, a popular campus dining hall, after getting a report of a man inappropriately touching female patrons. An officer arrived and took statements from both of the young women.
One of the women said she was at the soda fountain when she felt someone grab her rear end, according to the police report. She thought it may have been her boyfriend at first but turned around and realized it was the man later identified as Beierle.
He attempted to leave the scene but was intercepted by an officer. He showed the officer his New York driver’s license and his FSU ID and denied doing anything wrong.
“Beierle stated he may have accidentally bumped into several girls by accident but did not grab anyone,” the police report says.
The other woman, Courtnee Connon, told the Tallahassee Democrat that Beierle grabbed her while she was waiting for a slice of pizza.
Connon, then a freshman at FSU, said she thought it might have been a mistake, too, at first. While she was waiting for her pizza, she felt someone standing close behind her. He grabbed her butt, and when she turned around — her face full of anger and embarrassment — he apologized.
“He stuck out like a sore thumb,” Connon said. “He was just a very big guy. And it definitely made me feel intimidated. I wouldn’t say he seemed crazy. He just seemed really creepy.”
A sad day for our city:
She went back to her table to eat with her friends. But she kept an eye on Beierle, who seemed to be gazing around the room and staring at women as they walked by him. After watching him grab the other woman, she reported him to staff. She spoke with police. But after talking with her parents and thinking it over, she opted not to pursue charges.
“I think I thought if he got arrested that that would hopefully be enough to stop him from doing something like that again,” she said. “And honestly, I think the idea of going to court and everything just scared me. I was only 18.”
Connon, who’s been to the yoga studio where the shooting occurred, said she was shocked after learning the shooter was the same man who assaulted her years ago.
“I wish that I had pressed charges now,” she said. “I feel so terrible for those people. I just can’t even imagine.”
A yoga solidarity event on Nov. 3, 2018 in downtown Tallahassee brought together community members.
Special to the Tallahassee Democrat
Self-declared woman hater
Beierle bragged about his hatred of women in videos he posted on YouTube and made homophobic and racist comments elsewhere online. The YouTube videos were taken down after BuzzFeed posted a story about them. However, the Democrat was able to obtain copies.
In one video, he mentioned Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and wounded 14 others in 2014 near the University of California in Santa Barbara. Rodger also posted videos expressing his hatred of women and his frustration from not having a girlfriend.
“The situation … of like not getting any — no love, no nothing, this endless wasteland that breeds this longing and this frustration — that was me certainly as an adolescent,” Beierle said.
Beierle was a member of the Facebook group We are Conservatives, a community of President Donald Trump supporters. In an April 2016 post on conservative pundit Michael Savage’s Facebook page, he referred to Hillary Clinton as “Heroin Hillary” because of drugs coming over the border. He also called President Barack Obama “the greatest misogynist who has ever occupied” the White House.
“How no one has called him on this is astounding,” Beierle said of Obama. He is fast-tracking Muslim men via the refugee horde into the country and refusing to even a pause to vet them.”
In a nearly 13-minute-long YouTube video posted in 2014, he said his hatred of women dated back to his eighth-grade home economics class. He mentioned several of his classmates by name in the video, which he called, “The Rebirth of my Misogynism.”
“The target of their collective treachery can be anyone,” he said. “How do you respond when they, for whatever reason, collaborate to make the decision to attempt to tear somebody down? Well that’s where it began. That was its origins. Until I figured out how to address it.”
He closed the video with words that seem to suggest a possible motive in the shooting.
“I believe in karma,” he said. “What comes around goes around, and those that engage in treachery ultimately will be the victims of it. Hopefully there has been justice in some comparable regard.”
Contact Jeff Burlew at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @JeffBurlew on Twitter. Melanie Payne with the Fort Myers News-Press contributed to this report.
A sad day for our city:
The two people killed at Hot Yoga Tallahassee have been identified as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.
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