COLLIER, PA -- Three women were killed and reportedly nine others were wounded at a Pittsburgh-area LA Fitness club Tuesday night by a gunman who was a member of the club. The gunman turned a gun on himself after shooting the women.
The gunman was George Sodini, 48, of Scott Township, PA. Sodini had a blog on which he detailed his hatred for his mother and brother. He also wondered on the blog what it would be like to be dead.
The Allegheny County (PA) Medical Examiner’s office this morning identified the three women who were killed as Heidi Overmier, 46, of Collier, PA; Elizabeth Gannon, 49, of Green Tree, PA; and Jody Billingsley, 38, of Mount Lebanon, PA.
Sodini left a note inside his gym bag that indicated that he expected to die in the carnage. Sodini’s online diary shows that he had planned to carry out the shooting twice before, but “chickened out” each time.
Sodini allegedly walked into a group fitness room with approximately 20 to 22 women inside where a Latin impact dance class was taking place shortly after 8 p.m. local time. According to Stacey Falk, a woman in the class who was interviewed this morning on “The Today Show,” Sodini walked to the back of the classroom toward some weight stacks with a duffle bag. About a minute later, the lights went out, then she heard gunfire.
The women scattered around the room, some running out while others gathered in corners, Falk says. She finally ran out the door after seeing several women shot, including the instructor who had told the women at the beginning of the class that she was pregnant. The instructor reportedly was not one of the dead.
“He didn’t say anything,” Falk said during the “Today” show interview. “The gunshots were so loud. We couldn’t hear anything.”
About 50 shots were fired before Sodini took his own life, according to Allegheny County police. In addition to the 20 or so women in the group fitness room, there were another 50 people in the club at the time of the shootings, police said.
LA Fitness posted on its Web site the following statement about the shootings:
“Each of us in the LA Fitness family are shocked and saddened by the senseless act of violence against our members and one of our employees at our Bridgeville club in Pittsburgh on the evening of Tuesday, August 4, 2009. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and friends. We are working with local law enforcement as they conduct their investigation.”