Crime

Video captures panic, police response during Coral Gables gym shooting

Video shows chaos after Merrick Park shooting

The Miami-Dade Police Department released surveillance footage outside of Equinox Gym at Merrick Park when Abeku Wilson shot and killed two co-workers before killing himself.
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The Miami-Dade Police Department released surveillance footage outside of Equinox Gym at Merrick Park when Abeku Wilson shot and killed two co-workers before killing himself.

Almost a year after an aggrieved personal trainer named Abeku Wilson gunned down two people in the Equinox gym in Coral Gables, police released surveillance videos that show people scrambling from the chaotic scene and police taking up positions outside the gym.

The videos don’t shed much new light on the shooting at Merrick Park that claimed the lives of general manager Janine Ackerman, fitness manager Marios Hortis and Wilson. But it offers a glimpse into the mad dash in the moments during and just after the 33-year-old body builder went on his deadly shooting spree.

Police released more than an hours’ worth of surveillance from six different videos. Four of them show little other than people hustling to get away from the the Equinox gym on the second floor of the mall and scenes from a parking garage.

But one of the videos clearly shows the moments the shots rang out and dozens of people, many still dressed in gym attire, racing out of Equinox and toward a stairwell that led them downstairs. In one video, three men wearing only white towels rush to get away from the scene.

Less than five minutes after people fled from the gym and shoppers scurried away, police can be seen with rifles and handguns taking up positions outside of Equinox at the Laguna Street entrance.

On April 8, 2017, Wilson, who had been fired earlier in the day, walked back into Equinox and shot and killed Ackerman, 35, and Hortis, 42, before taking his own life. Wilson, who was said to be extremely popular with his clients, was a workout enthusiast who dabbled in martial arts, weightlifting, bodybuilding and modeling.

Ackerman was a Michigan State University graduate who attended on a field hockey scholarship. She attended Florida International University’s hospitality management school and worked as the director of VIP Services at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach before joining Equinox.

Hortis had been with Equinox for more than six years. He was born in Minneapolis and trained everyone from professional athletes to rehabilitation patients.

Wilson had encountered Coral Gables police several years before the shooting. In 2013, police stopped him 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.

He was charged with 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.

Police haven’t said if Wilson used the same weapon in the Equinox shooting.

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