Crime

Police found a gun in Equinox gym killer’s car when he was arrested four years ago

Abeku Wilson, a bodybuilder and trainer who killed two co-workers and himself at the Equinox fitness center at the Shops in Merrick Park in Coral Gables on Saturday, April 8, 2017.
Abeku Wilson, a bodybuilder and trainer who killed two co-workers and himself at the Equinox fitness center at the Shops in Merrick Park in Coral Gables on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

Four years ago, Coral Gables police stopped Abeku Wilson for speeding after clocking him at 62 miles per hour on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. On the floorboard behind the passenger seat of his white Chevy Camaro was a Smith & Wesson handgun. Police confiscated it and arrested Wilson.

The charge: leaving the scene of an accident with injuries that he was involved in two weeks earlier. The gun was perfectly legal. And Wilson wasn’t arrested for speeding.

A records check by the Coral Gables police officer that day found that Miami-Dade police had issued an arrest warrant for Wilson after the car accident. Eight months later when that case was cleared, Wilson legally retrieved his weapon.

On Thursday, a law enforcement source said the gun owned by Wilson in 2013 was not the same one he used to end the lives of two co-workers and then kill himself at the Equinox fitness club in Coral Gables.

Wilson used a semi-automatic Glock handgun.

The investigation into Saturday’s shooting, which left hundreds of people at the Shops at Merrick Park fleeing for cover during the busy lunch hour at the open-air mall, has been passed along to Miami-Dade police. A county spokesman said by Thursday afternoon there was no update on the investigation.

Police have said that at some point Saturday morning Wilson, 33, was fired from the job he held at Equinox for at least eight years because of a “workplace violence” issue. Then, just before 1 p.m. he returned to the gym on the second floor of the mall after retrieving a weapon from his car, and opened fire.

First, police believe, he struck general manager Janine Ackerman, 35. Then he trained the gun on fitness manager Marios Hortis, 42. Finally, police and witnesses said, Wilson walked into a backroom at the gym and shot himself in the head. Ackerman and Wilson died almost immediately. Hortis was pronounced dead the next day.

Read More: Two dead, one wounded after gunman opens fire at Shops at Merrick Park

On Thursday, Coral Gables police released a cache of information on Wilson, a popular personal trainer and bodybuilder, that the department had collected for more than a decade.

Those records show that Coral Gables cops interacted with Wilson at least five times since 2006, investigating everything from accusations of credit card fraud, to the speeding incident in which the gun was found, to an apparent prank that temporarily messed up his car and ended in two arrests.

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.

Police first encountered Wilson in 2006 after separate calls about credit card schemes in which they believed Wilson used someone else’s identity to make purchases. In one instance, Wilson, a UM student at the time according to Gables police, had $446 in items sent to him from a perfume company. That same week, police said, he used another person’s American Express card to buy $325.90 worth of clothing from a company in San Diego.

The report says that a University of Miami detective “advised that he has several other fraud cases pending with Mr. Wilson.”

Yet both of those cases were dropped.

Then, the reports claim, that in 2009 when Wilson was working at Equinox but living in Kendall, he was attending an event at UM when his dog Zeus bit a woman on the hand and on her stomach. Wilson told an officer Zeus had his rabies shots.

His next encounter with Gables police would be in February 2013 when his gun was confiscated. The report says that after the officer pulled Wilson over he found the handgun on the rear passenger floorboard. When the arrest warrant popped up on the officer’s computer screen, he confiscated Wilson’s gun and arrested him for leaving the scene of an accident with injuries.

By October the case was dropped and the gun was returned to Wilson, the records show.

Finally, Gables police say they were called to Merrick Park by Wilson in June of 2015 because he was upset that someone had filled the interior of his parked Camaro with bits of Styrofoam shipping noodles.

By the time an officer arrived, the report says, security personnel at Equinox had viewed surveillance cameras and determined that two Equinox employees had “vandalized” Wilson’s car. Confronted, they called it a prank.

Police said they tried to reach Wilson repeatedly, but he didn’t answer his phone. His two co-workers were arrested.

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