Maura Binkley, a 21-year-old graduate of Dunwoody High School, was identified Saturday as one of the two people shot and killed by a man at a yoga studio in Tallahassee, Fla.
Binkley, who attended Florida State University, was one of two victims killed late Friday afternoon by a man identified by Tallahassee police as 40-year-old Scott Beierle. Another woman, Nancy Van Vessem, 61, was also killed.
“Maura was a wonderful person who just had a heart of gold,” her aunt, Azalee Vereen, said. “Just a beautiful, giving young lady.”
An excellent student with a double major in English and German, Binkley had recently applied for a Fulbright scholarship and to work for Teach For America.
“It’s so senseless,” Vereen said. “Her family is devastated by it.”
Binkley had previously taken active shooter training, Vereen said.
“We don’t know what happened for sure, but if the opportunity had presented itself I’m sure she would have done all she could to save others,” she said.
Beierle was found dead at the scene of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.
Binkley was known for her compassion, positive outlook and eagerness to help others.
“She was really a light in everyone’s life,” said her roommate, 21-year-old Anna Thomas. “She was just incredibly genuine and strong for others. She was inspiring.”
Her boyfriend, Briggs Ellison, said Binkley was among the thousands who rallied at Florida’s Capitol after the school shootings in Parkland. She hated violence and was proud to have shown respect for the 17 killed at the high school on Valentine’s Day.
“I never ever realized then that she’d also become a victim,” said Ellison, a 23-year-old FSU grad student.
The Tri Delta sorority issued a statement about Binkley’s death.
“The Alpha Eta Chapter of Tri Delta at Florida State is devastated by the passing of our beloved sister, Maura Binkley,” International President Kim Sullivan said.
“ As a leader in our chapter, Maura embodied the Tri Delta woman — brave, bold and kind. Our hearts are with her family, our sisters and the FSU community during this difficult time.”
FSU will hold a ceremony for Binkley on Monday night, Vereen said. The family is planning her funeral over the Thanksgiving holidays so many of her friends from Dunwoody High can attend, Vereen said.
Of her high school friends, Binkley often said, “We are strong,” Vereen noted.
Tallahassee police responded at 5:37 p.m. to reports of the shooting at the Hot Yoga studio, the department said.
At least four other people were injured and another person was pistol-whipped during the incident, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Two of these victims are listed in stable condition and three have been released from a local hospital.
In a statement released Saturday morning, the Tallahassee Police Department said the motive of the shooting is still unknown.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Beierle described himself as a “job seeker” since June 2013. His profile notes that he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and government in 2003 from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
From 2005 to 2007, Beierle was an English teacher in Maryland in the Anne Arundel County Public Schools system, according to his LinkedIn profile.
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