A popular fitness trainer and male model showed up at a Florida fitness center with a gun and shot and killed the general manager and another trainer, sending frightened people dashing outside to safety in their gym clothes.
Abeku Wilson began shooting inside the Equinox fitness center at the Shops at Merrick Park, killing Janine Ackerman, the general manager of the gym, and the fitness manager, Marios Hortis, according to The Miami Herald. Hortis initially survived the attack but has now died.
Police said that Wilson was fired for workplace violence and escorted from the building shortly before the shooting.
Witnesses reported that Wilson did not appear to be targeting people randomly but, rather, bore a grudge and came to the fitness center to even a score. He committed suicide at the scene.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Wilson Was a ‘Well Known’ Personal Trainer at the Gym
The scene unfolded on April 8 as Wilson walked into the fitness center wearing the black shorts and shirt of a trainer and “appeared in the main entrance of the gym, raised a handgun and aimed it at another man behind the counter,” reported The Miami Herald.
He shot the two gym employees before turning the gun on himself.
The newspaper described Wilson as a “well known personal trainer” at the fitness center. Among those he trained: Marc Sarnoff, a former Miami city commissioner, reported the Herald. Sarnoff told the newspaper that he saw Wilson the morning of the shooting and “He said: ‘Sorry. I’m just off balance this morning. Which was strange. The way he said it, he almost slurred his words. He wasn’t clean shaven, which was unusual.”
The actor Cristian De La Fuente also used the gym. He was seen visiting the hospital after the shooting:
Wilson’s Instagram site is filled with fitness and bodybuilding photos. “Crazy competition season to say the least!” he wrote with one photo. “This year I’ve walked away with a couple first place finishes, an Overall and as bad as last callouts, but ended the season strong with a 4th place finish at USA’s(national show) leading up to a disappointing 3rd callouts tonight! Bitter sweet but extremely happy with my progress and physique! Looking forward to 2017 the chase doesn’t end here! Victory is mine at the end of the day! More pics to come.”
People filled Wilson’s Instagram page with comments about the shooting. One person wrote, “oh God that is so sad…I am soo thankful my mom wasn’t in the front desk when it happened she was very close to him tho but woow ???? God bless they’re family…”
Many writers expressed shock. One wrote, “Wow I’m in shock after reading this. He was a great trainer and always had a great spirit around me and had me in shape.”
2. The Shooter Was in a Dispute With the Murdered Gym Manager & Was Fired an Hour Before the Shootings
Police believe that Wilson was upset after an argument with Ackerman.
According to CBS News, police said the shooting “was a result of an argument between a disgruntled ex-employee and the gym’s manager. After shooting two former co-workers, police said, the suspect turned the gun on himself.”
According to the New York Daily News, police say Wilson was fired for workplace violence but haven’t provided specifics.
In a news release, police said, that Wilson “was terminated from his employment on Saturday, April 8, 2017, due to work place violence and was escorted off the premises. He then returned to the fitness center armed with a hand gun and shot the general manager, Janine Ackerman, multiple times. He also shot Marios Hortis, employee, multiple times, and then turned the gun on himself.”
The gym is located near an upscale mall in South Florida, in Coral Gables, and people in fitness gear ran outside during the gunfire, reported CBS.
Police reported that Wilson was an ex employee, indicating he had been fired, reported The Daily Beast.
3. Wilson Worked as a Model in Miami
Wilson had a modeling portfolio. His bio on the site describes him as “God-fearing, outgoing, charismatic, versatile, ambitious, kind hearted, and has a youthful and loving sense of humor. He has a positive attitude and appreciates and enjoys the simple things in life.”
The profile says his interests and hobbies were “Basketball, Track & Field, football, Weightlifting, listening to Jazz, R & B, and Hip Hop.”
According to the modeling website, Wilson “has been featured in various print ads and brochures. He has modeled the for lucky brand and a few up and coming designers, also having done various other fashion shows.”
4. Wilson Was Born in Boston & Had a Degree in Business Administration
On the outside, Wilson gave the projection of a successful person.
The modeling website bio for him says “Abeku was born in Boston MA. and currently resides in Miami FL, but also has lived in many places on the east coast, including New York City, and Atlanta GA.”
The bio said he was of “African heritage, His father hails from Ghana the culturally rich country in West Africa, While his mother was born and raised here in the United States. Abeku graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration, with a concentration in International Finance and Marketing Accounting.”
About nine months ago, he wrote on Instagram, “With everything going on in our country it’s easy for us to point fingers at each other and fight over social media! But what are we really doing to help solve the problems in our society?! I realized I was doing absolutely nothing but fighting online and adding to the divide so I decided to change that and help in a way I felt would add not subtract from the community… I’m not a big protestor type of guy and felt I could be more productive by spending my free time mentoring underprivileged inner city kids! So I challenge my family and friends to do the same… Give back in whatever way you see fit to your community! Let’s make a difference together!”
5. The Two Victims Had Promising Fitness Careers
According to the LinkedIn profile for Ackerman, she was the general manager at Equinox and was previously the assistant general manager. Before that, she worked for the Royal Palm in South Beach.
She wrote on LinkedIn, “With ten years of leadership and management experience in the hospitality industry I have a solid foundation of guest services and customer relations. I have extensive knowledge of hotel and restaurant operations and have the ability to plan and efficiently execute large and detailed events. My experiences have provided me with the communication skills necessary to excel in a multi-dimensional operation and create dependable, long-term relationships. I lead by example and am always eager to accomplish the goals at hand and enjoy fast-paced, high-energy environments. I am a quick learner and am always seeking to grow professionally and personally.”
The LinkedIn profile for Hortis (pictured above) says he had trained clients in Chicago and Miami. His LinkedIn profile begins, “It’s not work. It’s life. Discover inspiring career opportunities and unlimited potential for growth at Equinox. We are the leading luxury fitness and lifestyle company that achieves the extraordinary every day. We create an integrated approach to the well-balanced life – from personal training to group fitness to rejuvenating wellness treatments.”
Hortis was also a model, according to The Miami Herald.
Friends posted tributes to Hortis on social media.
“Marios, my heart is broken,” read one post. “I am so sorry that you were taken from this life so soon, and in such a cowardly and selfish way. You were one of the most brilliant & talented human beings I had ever had the pleasure of knowing. You were a master of your craft, an exceptional teacher, and you changed people’s lives for the better. Whenever I needed your help and advice, you were always there for me.”