Two managers of an Equinox gym in Coral Gables were killed in a shooting perpetrated by a former employee on Saturday, after which the employee turned the gun on himself.
The shooter, Abeku Wilson, worked at the Equinox until Friday. He was fired “due to workplace violence and escorted off the premises,” the Miami Dade Police Department told the Associated Press. He returned the following day and fired upon Janine Ackerman and Mario Hortis, the general manager and fitness manager of the gym, respectively.
A Coral Gables police officer heard the commotion and responded quickly. Witnesses told CBS News Wilson saw the police officer and retreated to the bathroom, where he shot himself.
Wilson appears to have deliberately targeted Ackerman and Hortis, according to reports. Coworkers and gym members say Wilson was very professional, proper, and appropriate, but something was amiss that day.
“He wasn’t clean-shaven … and he seemed to be slurring his words,” Marc Sarnoff, a former client of Wilson’s who works with a new trainer, told CBS Miami. “He said, ‘I’m sorry I’m just off balance this morning’.”
Details about Wilson’s termination are somewhat unclear, but witnesses claimed he knew exactly where he was going and his intentions were clear.
Preventing Workplace Violence
Violence in the workplace is a difficult issue to tackle, especially when employees display no outward signs of violence or aggression. But measures can be taken to better protect other employees and customers from danger.
Staying vigilant is one of the key factors in preventing disaster. This can include developing a plan of action for internal threats, and securing the property against outside threats. Measures like metal detectors, security cameras, and additional lighting can protect patrons and employees alike. Companies without crisis management protocols can find themselves liable for attacks or accidents occurring on their property.
If violence occurs in the workplace or on the premises of a business, the company may be liable for injuries sustained by employees or patrons. In a negligent security lawsuit, a plaintiff is required to prove the incident is both foreseeable and preventable. A knowledgeable attorney can investigate a claim and consult with experts to determine if a premises is secure.
“Our love, prayers and condolences are with both families during this terrible time,” Equinox said in a statement. “The collective Equinox community will always keep Janine and Marios in our hearts.”
As of press time, it’s unclear if the families intend to pursue damages against Equinox.
(Editor’s Note: This is a news story from the ‘Morgan Monitor,’ a news wire offering legal perspectives on news in your community.)