UPDATE: The two people who were killed in the shooting are 21-year-old Maura Binkley and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem, students of Hot Yoga Tallahassee. (Please see report below.)
Devastating. This is not the news we want to report. It’s horrifying and heartbreaking, but it’s real and we can’t pretend it didn’t happen. Or isn’t happening. Friday night around 5:30pm a man walked into a Tallahassee, Florida yoga studio with a gun and started firing. Two people are confirmed dead, with at least four others injured from gunshots and rushed to the hospital.
A Friday night evening class. You know, the one you’ve been looking forward to all week just to unwind and get grounded and feel at home again in your own skin.
The as of yet unidentified gunman died of a self-inflicted gunshot before police arrived, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. This is less than a week after 11 Jewish people were shot and killed worshipping in a synagogue.
(Update: gunman has since been identified–please see report below.)
Motive has not yet been reported, though it’s rumored it had something to do with a domestic dispute.
But maybe the question doesn’t need to be why but how. And what now.
How does this keep happening? How did this happen in a yoga studio, a place we turn to for a sense of peace, reflection and, for lack of a better word, safety? A place we hope is a sanctuary of inclusion, tolerance, love, community, of self-acceptance.
But yoga studios are not exempt from violence. This is where we’re at.
Our hearts break for the people’s lives lost and the community left in trauma. We can not imagine what they, their family, friends and loved ones are going through.
Let us send them our hope and strength and love.
But let us not recoil and burrow further into ourselves.
If you’ve felt disconnected from these horrible, unimaginable shootings we keep hearing about in the news at a wildly and alarmingly increasing rate, maybe this is the one, at a yoga studio, that’s hitting closer to home.
Do we need armed guards outside of yoga studios, too? Should yogis be carrying?
Gun yoga class doesn’t seem like so much of a joke anymore. But it is. A very sad joke. Let’s not let these tragedies become commonplace. Let’s not become downtrodden and complacent. We can all do something. Wearing guns in our yoga pants is not it. Yes, the news is deeply depressing, and yes, it’s exhausting. We learn a lot from yoga about being kind to ourselves and our neighbors. We learn about non-judgement. We also learn about discernment and truth, about community, and willpower, and the limitlessness of our own strength. The power of unity.
Let us take a collective deep breath and rise up.
Maybe it feels right now that you are powerless, but you are not. You have a voice, you have kindness, you have compassion, and maybe most importantly, in this moment in time, you have the right to VOTE. Let us not squander this moment in history and sit back in our bubble to let others act. Because, like it says on the yogi tea bag, the other person is you.
UPDATE via WTXL, TALLAHASSEE, Fla.:
The Tallahassee Police Department have released the names of the two people killed and the suspect in the Hot Yoga Tallahassee shooting on Friday evening.
The two people who were killed are 21-year-old Maura Binkley and 61-year-old Nancy Van Vessem.
The shooter has been identified as 40-year-old Scott Beierle. His mugshot is from a prior arrest.
TPD said at about 5:37 p.m. Friday, officers were called to the 1900 block of Thomasville Road to Hot Yoga Tallahassee.
When officers arrived on scene, they found multiple people suffering from gunshots wounds. TPD and emergency responders immediately provided medical attention to the victims, who were later taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening, and life threatening injuries.
TPD said Binkley and Vessem have died as a result of the shooting and one additional victim was hospitalized after being pistol whipped.
According to TPD, Beierle is dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. A total of six victims were shot.
A total of seven victims have been identified: six gunshot victims, and one pistol whipped victim.
A Tallahassee Memorial Hospital spokesperson said seven people have come to TMH related to the incident with one currently in critical, three in serious, two in good condition, and one deceased.
TPD stated two victims are in stable condition, and three have been released from a local hospital.
TPD said this is still an active investigation and could not release any more information at this time.
They are asking people to please avoid the area.