Pennsylvania Man Who Attacked Gym Had No Ties to Victims
August 5, 2009A man who sprayed bullets into a fitness class filled with women he didn't know, killing three and then himself, kept a Web page in which he wrote about years of rejection by women and left behind notes describing his inability to get a girlfriend, police said Wednesday.
George Sodini, who worked in a law firm's finance department, was anti-social, according to neighbors, and his Web page showcased a resume setting forth his credentials as an unhappy loner. It listed his date of death - Aug. 4, 2009 - and his status of "Never married."
On the Web site, the 48-year-old Sodini complained of not having a girlfriend since 1984, not having a date since May 2008 and not having sex for 19 years.
"Women just don't like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one," he wrote. The page ended with the words "Death Lives!
On Tuesday, Sodini scoped out the gym twice and then returned at night wearing workout gear and a headband and bringing with him four guns, police said. He entered a "Latin impact" dance aerobics class, placed a duffel bag on the ground, rooted around in the bag for a moment, turned off the lights and started shooting, police and witnesses said.
Three women were killed and nine women were wounded before he turned the gun on himself and committed suicide. In all, he fired 36 rounds from three of the guns.
Authorities on Wednesday identified the three women who died as Heidi Overmier, 46, of Carnegie; Elizabeth Gannon, 49, of Pittsburgh; and Jody Billingsley, 38, of Mount Lebanon.
Sodini's 4,610-word Web page, on a domain registered in Sodini's name, appeared to be a nine-month chronology of his plans for the shooting, his decision to delay it and the process that led to the eventual carnage at his health club Tuesday.
"The biggest problem of all is not having relationships or friends, but not being able to achieve and acquire what I desire in those or many other areas," said an entry dated Sunday. "Everthing stays the same regardless of the effert I put in. If I had control over my life then I would be happier. But for about the past 30 years, I have not."
Sodini wrote of planning the attack since at least November and had tried to do it when the same Tuesday-night dance aerobics class he targeted met on Jan. 6.
"It is 8:45PM: I chickened out!" he wrote. "I brought the loaded guns, everything. Hell!"
It was unclear when the Web page was posted and whether it had been updated repeatedly since November or posted in its entirety recently. Allegheny County police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said Wednesday that investigators would try to determine if anyone had read the Web site early enough to stop the attack.
Moffatt said authorities found handwritten and typed notes at the scene and in Sodini's house. He said the sentiments echoed those on the Web site.
A neighbor of Sodini's, Connie Fontanesi, said she was interviewed by county detectives Tuesday evening.
"He was so anti-social we really didn't learn anything personal about him," she said.
Mike Rick, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh law firm of K&L Gates, said the alleged shooter worked as a systems analyst in the firm's accounting and finance department since 1999. The firm was "deeply saddened by last night's events" and offered condolences to the friends and families of the victims, Rick said in a statement Wednesday.
The violence rocked the suburban Pittsburgh town of about 5,300 residents some eight miles southwest of downtown.
Jordan Solomon, 14, of Mount Lebanon, was in the all-female class and told The Associated Press on Wednesday that it started normally, but she thought it weird when a man walked into the class about 15 minutes later. Solomon said the man put a black duffel bag on the ground.
"He had a sweatband on his head. He was shuffling around in (the bag)," Solomon said. "All of a sudden all the lights went out and I turned around, he started firing. I turned around and I saw him holding a gun."
The man was expressionless, she said, and she didn't hear him say anything.
Solomon said she immediately started to run out of the room and into the parking lot, where she ran into a nearby restaurant and told workers there to call 911.
Five of the wounded victims arrived in critical condition at UPMC Mercy Hospital, but three of them were upgraded to serious condition by early Wednesday. Two women remained in fair condition at another Pittsburgh hospital. One victim was treated and released for a shoulder wound and a woman with a bullet wound to the knee remained in stable condition Wednesday.
Authorities initially had difficulty identifying the victims, because they had workout clothes on and weren't carrying wallets, Moffatt said.
Loretta Moss, 44, of McDonald, said she was exercising on a treadmill when she heard a popping noise.
"I didn't pay any attention, and the next minute, people were screaming," said Moss, who had come to the gym Tuesday night for the first time in a couple of weeks. She said she then heard more pops.
"There was like a whole spray of them. I'd say about 15 altogether, and then people started screaming and yelling and started running out the building," she said.
"We laid down, and then after the last set of ... gunshots, we got up, and someone said, 'run.'"
Associated Press writer Kimberly Hefling in Bridgeville, Pa., contributed to this report.
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