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The Tallahassee Yoga Shooter Was Motivated By Hatred Toward Women, Police Say

Two women were killed and four others were wounded by gunfire in the Nov. 2 attack.

Posted on February 12, 2019, at 7:01 p.m. ET

Steve Cannon / AP

The man who killed two women at a Tallahassee, Florida, yoga studio last year had a lifelong history of sexual misconduct, and his attack was motivated by his hatred of women, police said.

Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo on Tuesday provided the results of the investigation into 40-year-old Scott Beierle, who killed himself on Nov. 2 after opening fire at Hot Yoga Tallahassee. DeLeo said the shooting wasn't meant to target any particular person, but rather it was caused by Beierle's "lifetime of misogynistic attitudes."

"He expressed hatred toward women in general," DeLeo said.

BuzzFeed News previously revealed Beierle's far-right, misogynistic, and racist opinions, which the gunman detailed in a series of YouTube videos and songs uploaded to SoundCloud. On Tuesday, DeLeo confirmed the police investigation reviewed Beierle's journals and electronics, finding content that was hateful, threatening, and derogatory toward women.

And Beierle's violent misogyny extended into the rest of his life as well, where he had multiple run-ins with authorities over his misconduct, DeLeo said. The police chief acknowledged similar attacks around the country, and he called for preventative measures.

In Beierle's case, investigators found he had a history of sexual misconduct going back to grade school, the chief said. While enlisted in the US Army, Beierle had inappropriate contact with female soldiers and was ultimately discharged for unacceptable conduct, DeLeo said.

In 2012 and 2014, he was arrested in incidents that had a "sexual nexus," DeLeo added. He was fired from two substitute teaching jobs, for looking at porn at school in 2016 and for inappropriately touching a female student in 2018.

In August 2018, Beierle sent a website where he had posted his music to a childhood friend. The content concerned the friend's wife, who called the FBI.

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The FBI investigated the tip but did not find it "actionable," DeLeo said. FBI offices in Florida did not immediately respond to questions from BuzzFeed News.

Around that time, phone records revealed Beierle made a phone call to Hot Yoga Tallahassee; employees didn't recall any unusual conversation, DeLeo said. Beierle also visited the studio's website, looking up its class schedule and a map of the location.

Women who wear yoga pants are a regular target of rage from men who describe themselves as "incels" — involuntary celibates — online, and Beierle appeared to consider himself a member of that community. His Google records also show he viewed yoga-related pornography, DeLeo said

Beierle had in 2013 been in contact over Facebook Messenger with a woman who attended the studio, DeLeo added. But there's no evidence that Beierle knew which yoga studio in the Tallahassee-area she attended, and she wasn't there at the time. Police believe Beierle, a graduate of Florida State University, chose it based on his familiarity with the area.

On Nov. 2, he arrived at the studio with a yoga mat he'd purchased a month before and a 9mm Glock handgun. He paid for the class then paced outside until it began, DeLeo said.

At 5:35 p.m., he walked inside, put on hearing protection, then shot Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21, from behind. Van Vessem worked at FSU's College of Medicine, and Binkley was a student at the university.

"Based on the investigative work, Scott Beierle was a disturbed individual who harbored hatred toward women," DeLeo said. "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 actions toward women."

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