Shooting followed a dispute between an ex-employee and manager at a fitness club
The gunfire sent shoppers running for cover, witnesses say
A former employee at a Florida gym opened fire on former co-workers during a dispute Saturday, leaving two people dead, officials said.
The shootings at the Equinox Fitness Club at the upscale Shops at Merrick Park mall in Coral Gables occurred after an argument between Abeku Wilson, the former employee, and Janine Ackerman, the general manager, police said.
Wilson was fired from the club on Saturday and escorted off the property. He later returned with a handgun, killing Ackerman, 35, and fitness manager Marios Hortis, 42. Another victim was critically wounded, police said.
Wilson, 33, then turned the gun on himself and died at the scene, police said.
“Our sense of loss is too profound for words,” the club said in a statement on Sunday.
“Initially we thought it was an active shooter … but there was a Coral Gables police officer at the mall at the time who was able to quickly determine it was a targeted shooting,” said Miami-Dade Police Officer Alvaro Zabaleta.
The gunfire sent shoppers running for cover, according to witnesses. The mall was on lockdown for a time until police secured the scene.
In videos posted on social media shortly after the shots rang out, an automated recording is heard: “Emergency – evacuate or seek shelter.” Sirens blare in the background.
Tim Hartog, general manager of the Yard House restaurant, said the business was on lockdown.
“We had everyone underneath tables and got everyone to the back,” he said. “There’s police everywhere.”
Susan Amat tweeted from the restaurant’s kitchen: “Pray for safety for everyone at Merrick Park right now - everything is locked down - we’re in kitchen of Yard House. Go Coral Gables Police!”
Anais Michelle said she was walking into the mall with her mother when she saw people coming down from the third level, some crying about a shooting at the gym. Michelle said they hid in the back of a store.
The shooting started about 1 p.m., witnesses told CNN affiliate WPLG. Police said the area was secure about 40 minutes later.