BRIDGEVILLE, Pennsylvania – Friends mourned for three women fatally shot during their exercise class at a Pittsburgh-area gym by a man whose online diary revealed he felt ignored by women and had an “exit plan” to avenge his rage.
George Sodini went to a sprawling L.A. Fitness Club on Tuesday night, turned out the lights on the “Latin impact” dance-aerobics class made up of women, and opened fire with three guns, spraying dozens of bullets before committing suicide.
“He just had a lot of hatred in him and (was) hell-bent on committing this act, and no one was going to stop him,” Allegheny County Police Superintendent Charles Moffatt said Wednesday.
His 4,610-word Web diary appeared to be a nine-month chronology of his plans to end his misery with a shocking act of carnage at his gym. He couldn’t understand why women ignored him, despite his best efforts to look nice. He wrote that he hadn’t had a girlfriend since 1984, hadn’t slept with a woman in 19 years.
“Women just don’t like me. There are 30 million desirable women in the US (my estimate) and I cannot find one. Not one of them finds me attractive,” the 48-year-old computer programmer lamented.
It was unclear when the Web diary was posted and whether it had been updated online repeatedly since November or posted in its entirety recently.
Two undated videos, apparently recorded by Sodini, surfaced on the Internet and are posted on Starcasm.net. In one, he tours his suburban Pittsburgh home, starting outside and moving inside the two-bedroom, brick house. In the other, Sodini recorded himself standing in a doorway talking about hiding his emotions and trying to “emotionally connect” with people.
During the tour, he points out his computers, living space and a basement where he highlights his handy work, hanging paneling and a suspended ceiling. Sodini notes that a sofa and chair in his living room match and says, “women will really be impressed.” He also focuses on reading material on a table that include a books titled “Date Young Women” and a paper with “Office Politics” printed on the front.
Moving through the home, he talks about a newly purchased dining room set, and shows his bedroom, which includes a bed, computer and a dresser.
“It looks pretty clean,” he said. “I’m sure she’ll be impressed.”
Speaking to the camera in the second video, Sodini talks about hiding his emotion, how he thought he had 15 years remaining and how his objective his to “be real and be emotional” and to be able to “emotionally connect with people.”
He speaks about how, in a relationship with a woman 10 to 20 years younger, “she has to feel good about this thing.”
The health club violence rocked the town of about 5,300 people just outside Pittsburgh.
Killed were Heidi Overmier, 46, a sales manager at an amusement park; Jody Billingsley, 37, who worked for a medical-supply company; and Elizabeth Gannon, 49, an X-ray technician at Allegheny General Hospital.
“She can’t be gone,” said Gannon’s next-door neighbour and close friend, Carl Rady, who knew her for 35 years and said she loved to work out and pamper her dog. “It can’t happen that way.”
Six patients remained hospitalized, including the aerobics instructor, Mary Primis, 26, who was listed in fair condition. Primis is pregnant but said doctors told her the baby is fine.
Sodini did not have a relationship with any of his victims, according to police.
In his Web diary, Sodini wrote of planning the attack since at least November and said he tried to carry it out when the same weekly aerobics class met Jan. 6 but “chickened out,” he wrote.
His anger stemmed from unfulfilled desire: The women at his gym “look so beautiful as to not be human,” he wrote. He complained that women “don’t even give me a second look ANYWHERE” even though he was tan and fit and claimed to dress well and smell nice.
He listed his status as “Never married.” In a chilling addition, he recorded the date of his death as Aug. 4, 2009.
Sodini did not have a criminal record, and he legally bought the guns he used, police said.
Sodini’s family issued a brief statement: “Our hearts and prayers are with the victims and their families and we pray for the full recovery of the survivors.”
Sodini graduated in 1992 from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in computer science and had worked as a systems analyst at a Pittsburgh law firm since 1999.
A neighbour, Connie Fontanesi, said Sodini was so anti-social that “we really didn’t learn anything personal about him.”
Associated Press writers Joe Mandak, Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Genaro C. Armas and Jennifer Yates contributed to this report.