Andrew Gillum to return to Tallahassee in wake of shooting at yoga studio

Tallahassee Democrat
Mayor of Tallahassee and Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum speaks to the editorial board at the Tallahassee Democrat, on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018.

Andrew Gillum’s campaign to be governor was disrupted Friday by a shooting in Tallahassee. The mayor locked in a tight race with Republican Ron DeSantis canceled campaign events in Miami Dade to return to the capital city.

Update:Names of two killed at Tallahassee yoga studio, identity of shooter released

“I’m deeply appreciative of law enforcement's quick response to the shooting at the yoga facility in Tallahassee today. No act of gun violence is acceptable. I'm in close communication with law enforcement officials and will be returning to Tallahassee tonight,” Gillum tweeted shortly after the late-afternoon shooting.

An gunman killed one person and injured six others at Hot Yoga on Thomasville Road before he shot and killed himself after 5:30 p.m., according to Tallahassee police.

The two people killed at Hot Yoga Tallahassee have been identified as Dr. Nancy Van Vessem, 61, and Maura Binkley, 21.       

The shooter was identified as 40-year-old Scott Paul Beierle, according to the Tallahassee Police Department.   

More:1 victim dead, 4 critical after gunman opens fire, kills himself at Tallahassee yoga studio

The shooting occurred as both Gillum and DeSantis are making their closing arguments in the last weekend of the campaign.

DeSantis has hammered Gillum on Tallahassee’s crime rate

About three hours after the shooting, DeSantis tweeted: "The news of the shooting in Tallahassee is heartbreaking. Casey and I are praying for the families of the victim whose life was tragically taken tonight and those taken to the hospital with injuries."

"We are also praying for the first responders and the community as a whole as they come to grips with this senseless act of violence," he said in a second tweet. 

The shooting occurs in the midst of a toxic political environment attributed by Democrats to the tenor created by President Donald Trump’s remarks during the mid-term campaign.

A Florida man has been arrested for mailing pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and 11 people were killed last weekend at a Pittsburgh synagogue by a suspect said to be riled up by immigration policy.

It is uncertain at what time Gillum will return to the capital city tonight to confer with police and investigators.

Gillum's schedule for Saturday included a get-out-the-vote rally at the University of Central Florida and a Jimmy Buffett concert in West Palm Beach. However, a spokeswoman said everything with the campaign is fluid at the moment.

Shortly after the shooting, Gov. Rick Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, spoke to Tallahassee Police Chief Michael DeLeo, Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil and Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Rick Swearingen.

"I have been briefed by FDLE and local law enforcement regarding the shooting in Tallahassee," he tweeted. "FDLE is on the scene and assisting local police. I will remain in constant communication with law enforcement. We have offered state assistance."