Yoga studio shooter was arrested for groping women and trespassing on FSU campus

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Tallahassee yoga studio shooter was arrested on two occasions for groping women and again for trespassing on the Florida State University campus, where one of the arrests had occurred, according to police incident reports.

It does not appear he was ever convicted of a crime, according to court records.

Scott Beierle killed Maura Binkley, 21, and Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and wounded five others before fatally shooting himself at Hot Yoga Tallahassee last week. The Florida State University held a vigil for the women on Sunday night.

Survivor: I fought off the gunman

The 40-year-old gunman was known to campus police because of three calls about his behavior.

First battery charge

On December 7, 2012, two women complained to a food services employee in an FSU dining hall that a man had touched their buttocks. Police arrived and identified the man as Beierle, according to a campus police report.

“Beierle stated he may have accidentally bumped into several girls, but did not grab anyone,” the report says.

One of the victims, however, told police Beierle had definitely grabbed her butt, while a second woman confirmed not only that she saw Beierle grab the other victim’s backside, but also that Beierle had grabbed her butt on three occasions in previous weeks, police said.

Beierle was arrested and charged with two counts of battery. Records from the Leon County Circuit Court clerk’s office indicate the case was dropped.

Beierle again drew the attention of campus police more than two years later when a gym employee saw Beierle talking to himself before following a volleyball coach down the stairs at a gym, a police report says.

The gym employee monitored Beierle, who noticed he was being followed and left, the employee told police. Beierle returned the next day, June 17, 2014, prompting the employee to call police.

Beierle was lying on a couch with his shoes off and told police he had dropped in to use the bathroom and let his food digest.

Thirty-five years old at the time, he told an officer that he was an FSU student but later recanted and said he was an alumnus who frequented campus to eat and look for jobs, the report says. Beierle said he hadn’t followed anyone, and he was told to leave, according to the report.

The officer subsequently learned that Beierle had been issued a trespass warning for the dining hall where he’d been arrested in 2012, the report says.

Trespassing and battery arrests

Three weeks later, a campus police officer on a lunch break recognized Beierle as he entered a dining hall bathroom and confirmed his identity, the report says.

“While waiting for dispatch, Beierle advised he had a current trespass warning for FSU campus,” the incident report says. “I advised him that he was currently inside an FSU building and he advised he did not know. Beierle advised I should arrest him now.”

The case was disposed of via “other pretrial intervention,” according to a search of Leon County Circuit Court clerk records.

Police in Tallahassee, where FSU is located, arrested Beierle again in summer 2016 when a woman, 19, told an officer she had been assaulted at the swimming pool of her apartment complex.

The teen was alone at the pool sunbathing when Beierle, a tenant at the complex, sat down next to her and told her she had a “nice butt,” the incident report says.

“She thanked him and he offered to put sunscreen on it. She told him no thank you, she did not need it,” the report says.

He then asked for her name, she obliged and Beierle “then slapped her butt, and grabbed it then shook it” before hastily exiting the pool area, according to the report.

The responding officer returned to the complex the next day to view surveillance video, which backed up the victim’s allegations, the report says. Beierle was charged with battery, police said.

A Leon County clerk record indicates the case was dismissed in May 2017.

Remembering the victims

On Sunday, the Florida State community — including yogis, health care workers, students and faculty — gathered to honor the victims of Friday’s shooting.

Maura Binkley was an FSU student who “radiated love for everybody,” her father said, and Nancy Van Vessem was a faculty member who touched many lives, according to her friends and co-workers.

The crowd gathered on Langford Green on Sunday evening and held up battery-powered tea candles that flickered under an overcast sky as a small choir sang, “Hymn to the Garnet and Gold.”

“Our hearts are broken as we gather to mourn the loss of two members of our Florida State University family and offer prayers for those who were injured and affected by this horrific attack. This hateful and despicable act has affected our community profoundly,” Florida State President John Thrasher told those assembled.

Authorities say it’s not clear why Beierle carried out the attack. Investigators have not discovered any links so far between the gunman and the victims or the yoga studio, Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo said.

On Saturday, police searched Beierle’s home in Deltona and his electronic devices for clues.

In videos posted to YouTube in 2014, the man decried interracial relationships, slammed women who wouldn’t date him and identified with “involuntary celibates,” or “incels,” according to The New York Times. CNN has not verified the man in the videos is the gunman.

The videos had titles like, “Plight of the Adolescent Male” and “Dangers of Diversity,” The Times reported.

According to the newspaper, Beierle was sympathetic toward Elliot Rodger, who killed six people and wounded 14 others in 2014 near the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rodger had written a manifesto in which he lamented his virginity, which he blamed on the “cruelness of women.”

Beierle said that as an adolescent he could relate to “this endless wasteland that breeds this longing and this frustration,” The Times reported.