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Gunman Opens Fire in Tallahassee Yoga Studio

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

This past week, Tallahassee, Florida has been no stranger to gun violence. Two shootings have taken place in the city that so many of us call a second home. The first shooting occurred earlier in the week with one death reported at The Commons apartment complex. The second shooting occurred on Friday, November 2, 2018. The incident occurred at Hot Yoga Tallahassee on the corner of Thomasville and Bradford roads. The shooting resulted in two dead and four wounded before the gunman took his own life. There was a yoga session held at the Tallahassee Capitol on November 3, 2018, to commemorate the lives that were lost.

Courtesy: Tallahassee Democrat

The names of the two victims have been released. Law enforcement has positively identified both Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21. Both victims were a part of the Florida State University family. FSU President John Thrasher released a statement on November 3, 2018. “There are no words to express the shock and grief we feel after learning of the deaths of Maura Binkley and Dr. Nancy Van Vessem. 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.” — FSU President John Thrasher.

On November 2, 2018, shots rang out at Hot Yoga Tallahassee’s studio around 5:30 pm. Eleven people were signed up to take the 5:30 pm class and a total of 12 people were involved in the incident. Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo told reporters that the gunman opened fire in the studio killing two people and wounding four others before taking his own life. Law enforcement arrived on the scene approximately three and a half minutes after the call was made to 911. There is evidence that the people inside of the yoga studio at the time resisted the shooter and fought back. “Many people are alive because this guy rushed the shooter,” Kristen Jacobs said. “I am alive because one guy in a yoga class in his bare feet ran at a shooter. He didn’t run away.”

Chief DeLeo gave a briefing to reporters at 10pm stating,” The main focus for us is positive identification of the suspect and what link the suspects has to our victims.” When questioned about the type of gun used to commit the crime, Chief DeLeo declined and would not offer that information. By the time the briefing began, law enforcement had already interviewed over 40 witnesses.

 There has been no confirmed motive, however, sources have reported that Mayor Andrew Gillum’s chief of staff, Jamie Van Pelt, speculates that the incident was the end result of a domestic dispute.  Mayor Gillum will be returning to Tallahassee in wake of the events.

 “All indications are this is the act of a single person. There is no immediate threat to our community,” Chief DeLeo said. “Obviously, we’re all very saddened and shocked by the events that occurred, but it’s important that people understand that there is no immediate threat outside of what has already occurred here this evening.”

There are countless witness statements that were given by people who were in the surrounding areas at the time of the shooting. The Tallahassee police are asking that if you were in the area and might have seen something that could assist them in their investigation to please contact them using the phone number 50-891-4200 or by contacting Crimestoppers at 850-574-TIPS.

Law enforcement has said that they will continue to keep the public updated as soon as possible, however, they want to ensure that they are not just releasing information, but they are releasing accurate information regarding the incident. 

Her Campus at Florida State University.