Could We Have Stopped the Midtown Shooter?

Could We Have Stopped the Midtown Shooter?

Getting lost in the aftermath of the elections is the continual struggle with violence in our nation. To be specific, the urge to kill the unsuspecting in a blaze of self-loathing and hatred before killing oneself.

The Midtown yoga killing was such a callous act, I do not mention the name of the shooter. One young woman didn’t get her future. Her chance to be a wife, mother, dreamer, are all gone. The other was a medical professional who spent most of her career engaged in every area of the community. What does a civilized society do to remember Maura and Dr. Van Vessem and how do we respond as a community?

In a country based on the freedom of movement and thought, individual actions that impinge on public freedoms must be identified and made more difficult. Do we expect that yoga enthusiasts are to be strapped up now before they go out? Does the yoga community throw open their doors in defiance or have a buzzer to let people in? Do we hire more off-duty officers to join the schools, grocery stores, banks, and state agencies that already pay for security? What about buying more bulletproof backpacks and bulletproof designer clothes? Or is this the one? Is this finally the act where we study connections between creating killer instincts, rationing healthcare, and avoiding common sense gun laws?

The medical community and FSU School of Medicine, in kinship with the loss of one of their own, could help the search for answers. Was there a biological underpinning? There is enough research now to show possible linkage between the early stages of brain development and the propensity to commit criminal acts. Did the shooter have more access to weapons than healthcare? Was he properly discharged from the military? The university banned him from campus, yet FSU is not just a convenience store that a vagrant is trespassed from.  In a way, the shooter was a serial predator, usually someone required to register so law enforcement and the larger community may monitor their movements. Maybe that should have happened in this case. As a graduate of the university, should his degree status be revoked? How can someone earn a degree from a university that also bans him from campus? Are there any lessons from the practice of law or medicine and how criminal acts of professions are handled?

It is hard to get into the mind and will of why someone does what they do, yet if our response is resigned to check boxes and stay in our lanes without practicing the reasonable ability to discriminate, differentiate, coordinate, and learn, these things will continue to happen. The Midtown shooter is further evidence that people can follow the rule of law just enough, whether getting degreed, certified, or licensed, and still not be of sound mind. Weaponry that results in quick devastation should require as stringent an oversight as flying an airplane, buying a stick of dynamite, or prescribing a drug. Singular special interests and silo mentalities are destroying the common good. We have enough weaponry to arm every American. That’s enough. There are no more prayers to be prayed. Maura and Dr. Van Vessem deserve better.

Daniel Parker is an author, educator, and public servant. He may be reached at

20 Responses to "Could We Have Stopped the Midtown Shooter?"

  1. When a free man abuses their right, we attack the liberties of others completely uninvolved. We demand something be done and feel better until what we did fails to accomplish the goal so we add another something. Lather, rinse, repeat. The statute books get thicker and thicker like rings of a tree.
    How long until “reasonable” and “sensible” are defined by the ruling class? What failure point defines “stringent?”. There are predators amongst us. It is and has always been so. Their is no intellectual solution because only one half of the equation has thoughtful reflection and fears consequences.

  2. > Statistics say you are more likely to die from choking on food than from a mass shooter.

    But I eat *every single day*. I have to, in order to survive. I don’t get a choice. In other industrialized countries, the only threat people face is choking. Why do we have to live with both threats?

    > Sad that the Yoga shooting happened, but if existing laws were better enforced, a lot of this stuff would be avoided.

    I can tell that you are very broken up. You are the heart and soul of the community.

    > Stop allowing criminals to plea bargain down to misdemeanors and only get probation.

    The Yoga shooter did not have a criminal record. The Las Vegas shooter had no criminal record. The Pittsburgh shooter had no criminal record.

    1. Deep, as someone who obviously advocates for more gun laws and restrictions, you’d probably love living in Chicago – the city with some of the most restrictive gun laws in the nation – and coincidentally, the highest gun murder rate in the nation. Seems none of the bad guys in Chicago are obeying those restrictive gun laws.

      And you’re flat wrong that “the only threat citizens in other countries face is choking”. Ask the scores of Londoners who have been attacked with knives and machetes by islamic nuts. Or ask the hundreds of women in France and Germany who are groped or raped by islamic men, or the hundred or so victims of truck and vehicle attacks in both France and London.
      Facts record far more “threats” out there in other “industrialized countries” than choking.

    2. Deep – you should just stick with the 4 or 5 letter words you do best with.
      “Provocateur” is the proper spelling. If you’re adopting the behavior, at least spell your label correctly.

  3. Statistics say you are more likely to die from choking on food than from a mass shooter. Violent crime is actually on the decline.

    Sad that the Yoga shooting happened, but if existing laws were better enforced, a lot of this stuff would be avoided.

    On Thanksgiving Day in Polk County, Fl Steven Hunt shot and killed a man. He was quickly arrested. He had 16 felonies BEFORE he committed this murder. Why was he free?!

    Enforce the laws we have. Stop allowing criminals to plea bargain down to misdemeanors and only get probation.

    1. Thank you for reading. I would tend to agree with you that Mr. Hunt appears to be of little value to society. The only similarities between the midtown shooter and Mr. Hunt is that both had easy access to a gun. Limiting access to guns must therefore be a part of the response.

  4. The fairly recent phenomena of mass shooting and I think road rage as well seems to coincide with the development of ssri’s. Selective SeratonIn reuptake inhibitors which came out of the CIA’s mkultra research into LSD and which have no known therapeutic benefit but do have known side effects that include disassociation, suicidal ideation, and sexual dysfunction.

    This turns what would normally be someone motivated to improve their lot in life by the blues into an NPC who feels neither empathy nor conscience and is extremely susceptable to suggestion because they are in a hypnotic state. Unfortunately once you’re on them you can’t stop taking them and you end up at best having to microdose.for the rest of your life. You’ll never be the same. Similarly Haitian Voodoo practiicioners used drugs that would destroy certain parts of the brain to create what they called Zombies.

    If you’re on them you are prevented by law from buying a gun. Nor should you.

    On the other hand I personally think that every able minded American has an obligation to defend their lives, their families, their community, and nation.

    There are now numerous very affordable 9mm pocket pistols that weigh about as much as a wallet and that you can carry unobtrusively. Any of the local gun shops or ranges provide excellent structured training courses that will provide basic gun handling and safety courses. There are a ton geared toward women where you can try out a variety of weapons and I’m sure find one you are comfortable with.

    The shooting sports also are addictive but unlike SSRI’s are fun, empowering, and lead to the peace of mind that comes from being a responsible adult and being prepared and able to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

    So no there’s no excuse for not having a pistol on your f
    person at all times. It’s your right and good luck to any loon she that tries to take that right away from you as long as you have the will to exercise it.

    I heard a great quote from Michael Malice that I think explains the commentary from the left ( as well as their insatiable desire to impose their will upon you ) People of marginal intelligence think they are brilliant and that everyone else is a moron, when in fact nobody knows 99% of what is really going on at any given time.

    I personally carry a pistol with me because I don’t know what I’m walking into as soon as I leave the front door. I try to maintain situational awareness but I walk around lost in my own thoughts and I have no idea what Is in somebody else’s mind. I also am not inclined to either give or takie any guff from anyone. There are what 300 million people in this country. How evil is the millionth most evil person? At least I know that if worse comes to worse I I have a fighting chance to walk away from whatever I run into. What more can you ask for?

    If you think you have some moral obligation to disarm law abiding citizen, or even the power to do so you’re out of your frickin mind. When you’re talking about the NRA like it’s some kind of terrorist organization you’re disregarding the fact that two things they all have in common are love of country and the fact that none of them have a criminal record. You’re welcome to disagree with my opinion of the societal benefit of an armed populace but the constitution validates my opinion and if you feel that the constitution is not divinely inspired or unjust then you might consider moving somewhere where you are not subject to our rule of law and report back how It works out for you.

    Also if you think the police are obligated to put their lives on the line for you, if they arrive in time to rescue you from some life threatening event, I hate to disabuse you from that notion. They want to go home to their families just as much as you do. If you ever get into a squabble it’s not going to be a wait for backup situation it going to be a you’re on my your own situation, and all you do is deal with it the best you can within the law.

    I was talking with a friend who was an airborne ranger for 30 years and I remarked to him how much I admired him because I could never be a soldier I could never be a cop because I could never have the restraint to deal with pedophiles, terrorists and poppy growers and I told him that they must have trained him well. His reply was that it wasn’t training that restrained him but the fear of spending the rest of his life in military prison.

    So if you think that armed citizens are somehow reckless or irresponsible you’re not asking yourself the right questions. I have a friend who spent 18 months in prison waiting for trial after shooting a drunken home intruder who was beating him to death in front of his pregnant daughter only to be acquitted by a jury of his peers in five minutes once it went to trial.

    What’s irresponsible to me is believing that somehow a benevolent all powerful nonrepresentative socialist kleptocracy is going to protect your interests and keep you safe from harm.

    The left needs to quit worrying about taking my life, rights, and liberties and learn to think for your damn self. Exactly what benefit do get from parroting the party line? Are you fearful that you lack the gumption to make it on your own as an individual. Do you really fear free people or are you afraid might be that millionth most evil person.

    You always have to ask yourself if you’re asking yourself the right questions.

  5. This is an incel who decided to kill a bunch of people because he was too much of a wuss to man up. Nothing more. Just so we are clear, incels are a subset of the alt-right.

    1. Thank you for reading. My main point of the commentary is to study the why and how of this crime. If we simply label the shooter and make general assumptions, and move on without doing any in-depth research, it will happen again. FSU and the medical community has the means to delve deeper, if it wishes to.

  6. Daniel, you deserve serious credit for one very important decision in your column – you did NOT mention the name of the murderer. I have been on a more-than-decade long crusade to get the media to not publish and repeat the name of mass shooters, or violent offenders for that matter, unless they are at-large. Enough of these people are seeking the very attention and media “immortality” which is too easily offered by nearly every media outlet. Regardless of whether folks like or dislike your opinion on the tragedy, your simple decision is noteworthy and appreciated.

  7. Stop with the faux over anaylising already.
    There are 99.9% more people in our society of sound mind and body than there are febel minded killers like the mid-town shooter.
    More guns in the hands of the 99.9% is the answer.
    Heck if your granny had been in the yoga studio with a gun in her fanny pack she would have shot the fools lights out before he killed those inocent people.

    1. You raise a good point. People *should* be doing yoga with guns in their waistbands and/or yoga pants! I don’t know where Snidely has seen people doing yoga while wearing a fanny pack, but I tend to believe that he is well versed in yoga, so I’m sure it happens somewhere.

      Yesterday I was on the treadmill, and I had a gun in my hand the whole time, and man did I feel safe! Everyone in the gym was so relaxed, knowing that I could stop an incel idiot at any time! I even used the barrel to kick the speed up when I wanted more push. It was the only way I could insure my own safety.

      Sitting on the toilet? Gun in hand! I did have to go lefty for a few seconds while I wiped, which was a terrifying time. Thankfully no incel barged into the toilet at that moment of weakness.

      Taking the kids to Chuck-E-Cheese? I held the gun out so all the hooligans knew not to mess with me.

      You make a lot of sense, Snidely Whiplash.

      1. Mr Deep – your opinions about guns are allowed, but demanding all people comply with your opinion is not. The problem with liberals is that since they personally dislike guns and feel no one should be allowed to have a gun, they demand that everyone else comply with their opinion. Basically, liberals demand that everyone complies with their opinions about everything.
        It’s been proven time after time that a “good guy” with a gun is the best defense against any mass shooter or criminal with a gun. You make sarcastic jokes about carrying a gun, but someday your life and others might be saved by someone who carries one for self-defense.

        1. Mike –

          I am surprised you saw my attempt at humor. Are you sure I didn’t use my glock to tap my speed up on the treadmill?

          > your opinions about guns are allowed, but demanding all people comply with your opinion is not.

          For the life of me, I cannot see where I have demanded that anyone ‘comply with my opinion’. Can you point that out to me, or is this just a strawman of your own creation?

          > The problem with liberals is that since they personally dislike guns and feel no one should be allowed to have a gun, they demand that everyone else comply with their opinion. Basically, liberals demand that everyone complies with their opinions about everything.

          This is the state of current conservative thought, that liberals ‘demand’ that ‘everyone comply with their opinion on everything’. This narrative of offensive in its generality and is intellectually bankrupt to the point of pity. My six year old makes more cogent lamentations when I tell him I will not purchase him a Nintendo switch. Step out of the echo chamber if you dare.

          > It’s been proven time after time that a “good guy” with a gun is the best defense against any mass shooter or criminal with a gun.

          Where has that been ‘proven’? Show me the study. Please! Or is it simply a collection of anecdotes from the right wing internet? Hey, did you hear about the good guy who stopped a shooting, and then was shot by police in Alabama this week? Or the good guy in Illinois who was shot by cops a month ago? Oops!

          For every good guy with a gun story, there are a thousand times where people just plain got shot, a situation completely without precedent in first world countries. Despite having more guns per capita than any other industrialized nation by a light year, we lead the world in mass shootings. How would you explain this paradox? We are littered with good guys, and yet, shooters in Pittsburgh, or Las Vegas, or Hot Yoga, or Parkland were not stopped.

          > You make sarcastic jokes about carrying a gun, but someday your life and others might be saved by someone who carries one for self-defense.

          Maybe. But *maybe* someone will shoot me with a gun; something that is statistically all but impossible in most first world nations. I don’t feel safer knowing that idiots can get a gun and I can too; I’d rather not have a gun, and know crazy people also cannot get guns. This is the way that it is handled in every other first world country on the planet, and they do not have any editorials about mass shootings at yoga studios, because they don’t have to.

          1. I hope your granny with that glock in her fanny [pack] follows your defensless self around everywhere you go. Because government and more gun laws will do nothing to protect you.
            Man up get your own Glock and some training!

          2. Sorry I stepped on your toes, Deep. Tell you what – do as you wish and don’t carry a gun, and if it makes you feel better, continue to disparage those of us that do. Doesn’t matter to us.
            I’m fine with anyone who doesn’t want to carry a gun – just don’t tell me I can’t carry one.
            However, if you think for a second that a “crazy” won’t get a gun despite every law and penalty and “gun-free” sign the liberals demand, you’re dead wrong. America passed laws against using certain drugs, and burglary, and speeding, and a hundred other behaviors – and of course all that’s no longer a problem, right? I mean, if it’s a law, and there’s a sign prohibiting it, then of course no one will do that illegal act, will they? Just like the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, the concert in Las Vegas, and the yoga studio in Tallahassee. But of course everyone is safe forever after you ban “crazies” from getting a gun – Just like we’re safe on the road from speeders, and our homes are safe from burglary, and no one does illegal drugs anymore. Ban guns anywhere and everywhere in America, and the “crazies” will still get them (“criminals” by definition disregard laws ) – so I prefer to have some self defense. You of course can do as you feel is best, and I wish you well.

          3. By the way, Deep, here’s your “study” – produced by the FBI (hardly an “internet anecdote” organization):
            “As the National Sentinel reports, referencing the FBI:
            A report by Jacob Paulsen at found that in 94 percent of cases, armed citizens successfully intervene during what the bureau calls “active shooter events,” which is defined by the FBI as, “One or more individuals actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a populated area.”
            Paulsen notes that the FBI has published three reports that detail active shooter events between 2000 and 2017. The first covers event between 2000-2013; the second from 2014-2015; and the third from 2016-2017.”

            Note that the above remarks are solely based on the FBI study, and don’t include personal opinions. I’d say 94% of active shooter where an armed citizen “successfully intervened” is a pretty decent average. And this remark on the FBI study from The National Review (again, hardly an “anecdote” publication):
            “The lesson? Armed citizens can make a difference, and as more Americans obtain carry permits, more Americans will be on-scene and able to react. Moreover, what’s missing from the data is any indication that armed citizens make the crisis worse. The stereotype of carry-permit holders spraying panicked gunfire is simply wrong.”

            Now of course if you’d prefer to relax in a “gun free” zone and take your chances, suit yourself – and hope the shooter reads and obeys the signs. Personally, I’d rather have someone armed (lincluding myself) who “intervenes”.

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