Matthew Egan is the Texas man who said he was assaulted by a stranger who Egan claimed had been verbally attacking a young woman, described only as a “woman of color,” with racist and sexist remarks. The confrontation happened June 12 at a Life Time Fitness in San Antonio.
Egan told Heavy in a phone interview that as he entered the pool area, he heard the man, described as a white man in his 40s, call the young woman a c*nt and tell her, “You don’t even belong in this country.” Egan said he initially tried to diffuse the tension with a joke before the other man became violent. Egan said he was head-butted in the face three times and suffered a fractured tooth.
Egan said the young woman, who asked not to be identified, was in her early 20s and immigrated to the United States more than a decade ago. She told the San Antonio Express-News that she had never experienced anything like this since moving to the U.S. and was grateful Egan stepped in to defend her. “There were people already there from the beginning who were hearing all of it who didn’t say anything,” she explained to the newspaper. “It made me really happy and it made me feel really great to know that people like him are still there to help.”
On June 18, the other man from the gym identified himself on Twitter as Tim Brian Kelleher. In social media posts, he claimed Egan’s story was a fabrication and accused Egan of orchestrating a setup. In a phone interview with Heavy, Kelleher adamantly denied making any racist statements and said that there were witnesses who could support him on that.
According to the police report from the San Antonio Police Department, officers requested a copy of Life Time Fitness’ surveillance footage from the day of the confrontation.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Egan Claimed Kelleher Started Yelling at the Young Woman After She Asked Him to Respect the Gym’s Social Distancing Rules
Life Time Fitness has implemented social distancing measures at all of its gyms since reopening amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The San Antonio location where this confrontation occurred has limited the number of people allowed in the sauna to four at a time. According to the police report, the young woman accused Kelleher of attempting “to cut in line to enter the sauna.” She told the police that she “advised” him of “the rules due to COVID-19 of limited persons at one time in the sauna.”
Kelleher told Heavy that the young woman called him an a**hole and he responded by calling her a “jumped up c*nt.” He said the woman left the sauna to talk to management. Kelleher said when he got out shortly after, the young woman was walking toward him with her phone out. He said she wanted to record him calling her a c*nt. Kelleher told Heavy that he repeated it and clarified to her that he had said, “jumped up c*nt.”
This was when Egan became involved. Egan told Heavy that as he arrived at the gym that evening to use the pool, he saw the young woman and Kelleher having what he described as a “passionate, animated” conversation. Egan described feeling stunned as he heard the man call her a c*nt. He claimed Kelleher said, “You don’t even belong in this country.” He also said Kelleher was berating the young woman for trying to “tell him what to do” and that he didn’t have to listen to her because she was not a gym employee.
Egan said that right before he stepped in, he noticed that the young woman was holding her phone up. Egan explained that he wanted to calm Kelleher while also signaling that his behavior was being recorded. “I have a big mouth and I always try to diffuse with humor,” Egan explained. “I walked up and said, ‘Are we going to be on YouTube?'”
Kelleher told Heavy that he does not recall Egan making the YouTube comment. He also adamantly denied making any racist remarks and explained that as an Irish immigrant himself, it wouldn’t make sense for him to tell anyone to go back to another country.
2. Egan Claimed Kelleher Threatened to Kill Him & ‘Spewed Hate In Any Direction He Could Think Of’
Egan said Kelleher threatened him and tried to bait him into throwing a punch. “Every time he didn’t like something I said, which was always, he’d come back and get in my face,” Egan explained. “He would say, ‘I’m going to find you. I’m going to come to your house. I’m going to kill you. I’m going to put you in a box, I’m going to put you in the ground.'”
Egan explained that he was responding to Kelleher with comments such as, “It’s 2020, are you really going to behave like this?” and “Do you get your rocks off talking to women like this?” He also expressed amazement that the other man had become angry over being asked to abide by social distancing rules.
Egan claimed Kelleher hurled multiple insults at him and the young woman. “He’s just so ugly that he just spewed hate in any direction he could think of,” Egan told Heavy. He added that he had no interest in getting into a physical fight with Kelleher because he appeared to be very strong, but he wasn’t going to move. “My thought was to stand between him and her. If he wants to hit me, that’s fine. But better me than her.”
Egan said after Kelleher head-butted him the first time, a Life Time employee called the police while a second worker tried to stand between them. But Egan said the man managed to head-butt him twice more, while engaged in a boxer’s stance, before finally walking away. Egan started bleeding after the third hit. “I was covered in blood.”
Kelleher disputed Egan’s account. He claimed Egan approached him aggressively and accused him of being a white supremacist. Kelleher also said he didn’t hit Egan, but rather just put his head against Egan’s. Kelleher claimed Egan told him, “I’m going to take your house, you assaulted me.” Kelleher added that he never saw Egan bleed, didn’t know the police were called that night and denied making any death threats against Egan.
3. The Man From the Gym Identified Himself On Twitter as Tim Kelleher & Claimed Egan’s Story Is Fabricated
Neither the San Antonio Police Department nor Life Time Fitness publicly identified the man Egan had a confrontation with at the gym. But a man named Tim Brian Kelleher identified himself via social media in response to Egan’s posts. Kelleher has accused Egan of fabricating the story. He wrote on Twitter:
Why are you making out you were a hero? You came up to me running your mouth saying give you a reason to beat my ass.
You made this totally up and you will be caught and prosecuted for trying to incite racial division and putting myself and my bi racial children in danger.
On Facebook, Kelleher also posted on Egan’s page with accusations that he made everything up. In those posts, Kelleher denied saying anything about race at the gym. “I have a black witness who was there who said I didn’t utter a word about race or go back to your country!” He also claimed that the entire situation was a “setup.”
Heavy reached out to Kelleher via Twitter on June 18 to ask about learning more about his side of the story. In an email to Heavy’s editor, Kelleher called Egan a “complete fraudster” who had “cried wolf.” Kelleher insisted that he never would have told anyone to “go back to her country,” because he is an immigrant himself. He explained that he was a “former illegal immigrant” from Ireland and that he is “still on a green card.” He added, “Why would a man from a different country tell an American to go back to her country? This is laughable if it wasn’t so serious!”
Kelleher also described his ex-wife as a “black Hispanic woman,” that his children are biracial and that he is currently “on a site called Afromance for men who only date a woman of color.” In the phone interview with Heavy, Kelleher explained that he created a Twitter account in order to publicly defend himself. “I wanted my name out there.”Kelleher described himself as “no altar boy” and admitted he has a temper, but insisted that he only ever gets heated when someone else pushes him first.
4. Egan Said It Frustrated Him That None of the Other Witnesses or Staff Members Said Anything As the Confrontation Escalated
Egan expressed frustration that no one else attempted to support him and the young woman as the situation escalated. He told Heavy that when he walked into the pool area, he saw approximately five people in the hot tub and at least two others waiting to use the sauna, in addition to the four other people already in the sauna. Egan said he was disappointed that no one had intervened on the young woman’s behalf before he got there. “He was really loud. Everybody heard it. They just chose not to get up,” Egan told Heavy.
Egan explained that two young male staff members got involved as the argument escalated; he said one called the police while the second stood between them. But Egan said neither of them said anything. “They weren’t even trying to calm the guy down.” Egan said he asked them, “Where the hell is the rest of your staff?” Egan added that he had hoped for a greater show of support in order to show Kelleher that there was “strength in numbers.”
Egan told Heavy that since this confrontation happened, he has been praised as a hero but he doesn’t view himself that way. “There’s a fine line between bravery and stupidity. He may have really hurt me.” Egan explained that in hindsight, the “wiser” decision may have been to remove the young woman from the area and wait for the police to arrive. “I don’t view anything that I did as heroic. I’m more frustrated that everyone else just sat there and watched. Maybe the guy was just really intimidating to everyone else, I mean he was intimidating to me,” Egan said.
Egan said he stepped in because he didn’t like how the young woman was being addressed. “If you have the power to protect somebody from having trauma, if you have the power to reduce someone’s trauma, then stand beside them,” Egan said. “You don’t have to get in a fight. You don’t have to get blooded up. But stand beside the people that are being victimized so they know they’re not alone and they know we’re not all like that.”
5. Life Time Fitness Terminated the Man’s Membership & Says the Company Will Cooperate With the Police Investigation
Heavy reached out to Life Time Fitness to confirm whether Kelleher’s membership had been terminated and for additional comment on the incident. We received this statement via email:
We are committed to upholding safe, respectful and family-oriented environments, and take all reported incidents very seriously. Regarding this situation specifically, authorities were called immediately once our team became aware and swift membership actions were taken, including termination. Violence and discrimination of any kind are not and will not be tolerated. In addition to conducting an internal review, we are committed to cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation.
Egan told Heavy that as of June 18, a detective had been assigned to the case and Egan plans to go forward with pressing charges. But he says a defense attorney advised him that it could take several weeks before an arrest warrant is issued because police “didn’t catch him in the act.”
On June 19, Egan wrote on social media that “corporate at LifeTime reached out and said the assault is clearly captured by their CCTV footage. He runs up and headbutt me, clear as day. They said ‘It looked like he was trying to put his nose down your throat.'” Egan told Heavy that he was told the surveillance video didn’t have audio.
Heavy reached out to Life Time Fitness again to independently verify Egan’s information about the video. A spokesperson directed us to the San Antonio PD. The department supplied the police report, which noted that officers had requested a copy of the surveillance video from Life Time Fitness. But our questions about the video, and for updates on the case, were not answered. The public information officer responded in an email, “this case is under investigation and there is no new information to report at this time.”