Coral Gables

Second Equinox victim, who died Sunday, called ‘exceptional teacher who changed people’s lives’

Equinox fitness manager Marios Hortis was killed after a former trainer opened fire at the gym’s Merrick Park location. Hortis had also worked as a model.
Equinox fitness manager Marios Hortis was killed after a former trainer opened fire at the gym’s Merrick Park location. Hortis had also worked as a model. MP MEGA MIAMI

Marios Hortis, the second victim of the workplace shooting at Equinox fitness center, was called an “an exceptional teacher who changed people’s lives for the better” in a social media post by one of his clients.

In a Sunday morning email to members, Equinox fitness center announced that Hortis, the fitness manager, had died as the result of his gunshot injuries suffered Saturday at the Shops of Merrick Park.

Miami-Dade police later confirmed Hortis’ death as well as the death of Equinox general manager Janine Ackerman, who was shot in the head and died late Saturday.

Gunman Abeku Wilson, who had been fired from his position as an Equinox trainer earlier that day, shot Hortis and Ackerman before killing himself, police said.

Equinox’s Merrick Park fitness center remained closed Sunday. Mall security guards stood at either end of the second-floor walkway in front of the main entrance. Meanwhile, the gym provided grief counselors for employees and gym members at the Biltmore.

“Our entire Equinox family experienced a terrible tragedy yesterday when a former trainer walked into our club in Coral Gables and shot two members of our team,” read the 10 a.m. Sunday email from Equinox. “We are deeply saddened to inform you that our general manager, Janine Ackerman, and our fitness manager, Marios Hortis, both passed away as a result of their injuries. Our sense of loss is too profound for words.”

Ackerman, 35, was eulogized in the email as “a kind and caring soul, a person we all loved and will deeply miss.”

Of Hortis, 42, the email said, “His generous spirit and warm demeanor made him an always welcome presence in our world, one that will be sorely missed.”

Hortis, who also modeled for MP Mega Miami agency, worked at Equinox’s South Beach location before moving to the Coral Gables location. Member Shed Boren called Hortis “an inspiration” who boosted Boren’s spirit during a rough time in his life when they met in November.

“He viewed the gym as not just an athletic venue, but an oasis of wellness,” Boren said. “He took the time to keep track of others, and he encouraged progress. It was not just a job, but a mission.”

Boren said that when he saw Hortis around 11 a.m. Saturday, the trainer took the time to good-naturedly note his progress from November. That wasn’t unusual, Boren said, though he wasn’t actually Hortis’ client.

Chris Gys, a former manager at the Miami Beach Equinox, posted a heartfelt tribute Sunday morning on Facebook as word began to spread that Hortis had died. “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. Thank you so much for always listening to me and helping me through some of my toughest days,” he wrote.

Added Boren: “He didn’t have to have long conversations with you to make you feel like he really cared.”

A gunman opened fire inside the Equinox fitness center at the Shops at Merrick Park early afternoon Saturday, leaving two dead and one person wounded at the upscale Coral Gables mall anchored by Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, police said.

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal