Police say gunman had just been fired from fitness center

Posted at 11:35 AM, Apr 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-09 14:35:42-04


Associated Press

The gunman who shot and killed two managers at a Florida gym before turning the gun on himself had just been fired from the fitness center for workplace violence, police said Sunday.

The Miami-Dade Police Department said in a statement Sunday that 33-year-old Abeku Wilson of Miami was let go from his job as a fitness trainer at the Equinox gym in Coral Gables on Saturday "due to work place violence and was escorted off the premises.

Shortly after his dismissal, Wilson returned to the gym armed with a handgun and fired multiple shots at both managers before shooting himself to death. Police said the managers were deliberately targeted and that the shooting was not random.

Equinox issued an email statement Sunday saying that it is "deeply saddened" by the deaths of the two employees, 35-year-old Janine Ackerman of Miami and 42-year-old Marios Hortis of Miami Beach. Ackerman was general manager of the gym; Hortis was fitness manager.

"Our love, prayers and condolences are with both families during this terrible time.  The collective Equinox community will always keep Janine and Marios in our hearts," the statement said.

Marc Sarnoff, who previously trained with Wilson for two years, saw him at the gym before Saturday's shooting and noticed something was wrong.

Wilson typically was "very buttoned up, very proper, very appropriate," Sarnoff said in a phone interview. But on Saturday, Wilson physically bumped into Sarnoff and his current trainer. The usually adept Wilson seemed noticeably off-kilter.

"He wasn't clean-shaven ... and he seemed to be slurring his words," said Sarnoff. "He said, 'I'm sorry I'm just off balance this morning'."

The shooting happened about 1 p.m. at the upscale Shops at Merrick Park. Shoppers, diners at mall restaurants and people in workout gear ran to safety or took cover after reports of gunfire.

"Five gunshots," Ovi Viera, who was washing his hands in the men's locker room, told The Miami Herald. "It was too loud for it to have been a weight dropping. Within two seconds, people just started running out.

The mall is within a couple miles of the University of Miami campus.