A second victim in a shooting at a Coral Gables fitness center has died.
Equinox Fitness Club issued a statement Sunday on its Facebook page that gym manager Marios Hortis died after being shot multiple times Saturday at the Shops at Merrick Park.
Miami-Dade police later confirmed the gym’s statement.
The shooter, identified as former Equinox Fitness Club employee Abeku Wilson, 33, was fired from the gym Saturday because of workplace violence and was escorted off the premises, Miami-Dade police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said. He then returned to the fitness center and fatally shot Janine Ackerman, 35.
Hortis, 42, was also injured in the shooting and later died at Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center, Zabaleta said.
After shooting the two victims, Wilson fatally shot himself, Zabaleta said.
“There is nothing I can say to lessen the searing pain we all feel at this terrible moment,” Equinox Fitness Club executive chairman Harvey Spevak wrote on its official Facebook page. “Yesterday’s tragedy at our Coral Gables location has impacted everyone in the Equinox family. Our team members, Janine Ackerman, Coral Gables general manager, and Marios Hortis, our Coral Gables tier X manager, were beautiful souls lost way too soon. We send our love and condolences to their families and friends. We also wish to thank the entire Equinox community for its outpouring of support and kindness in the wake of this senseless tragedy.”
In a separate statement, signed by Spevak and the gym’s chief executive officer, Niki Leondakis, and chief operating officer, Scott Rosen, the loss of the two gym employees is described as “too profound for words.”
The statement said that Ackerman had been working for Equinox for nearly two years.
“She was a kind and caring soul, a person we all loved and will deeply miss,” the statement said. “Her memory will never be forgotten.”
Hortis worked at Equinox for six years.
“His generous spirit and warm demeanor made him an always welcome presence in our world, and that will sorely be missed,” the statement said.
Florida International University President Mark Rosenberg released a statement Sunday about Ackerman.
“Our deepest condolences to family and friends touched by the violence at a Coral Gables fitness center on Saturday,” Rosenberg said. “We are especially sad that an FIU alumna, Janine Ackerman, was among the fatalities. Janine earned her master’s (degree) from the Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management in 2008. She stayed in touch with classmates and vice provost and professor Steve Moll, who followed her career and spoke with her regularly. She was the general manager at the Equinox. Senseless violence has claimed yet another life full of promise. Please keep Janine and her family in your prayers.”
Ackerman attended FIU after graduating from Michigan State University, where the New Jersey native received an athletic scholarship to play field hockey.
Moll was her academic adviser at FIU and said Ackerman was a “rare” student.
“There are one or two dozen people in your career who become your friend,” he said. “She was one of those rare, special people.”
Moll said Ackerman maintained a 3.9 GPA in school, and helped coordinate student volunteers at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, a job that she “nailed.”
The pair kept in touch over the years, and when Moll learned of Ackerman’s death, his world stopped.
“I went to the bathroom and cried,” he said. “She is two years older than my daughter. It was like losing a daughter. You never want to go through that. When she became your friend she was the best person ever.”
Moll said it’s hard for him to talk about Ackerman in the past tense.
For now, he’s holding onto memories they shared together, like the time she gave him a ride in her BMW.
“She said, ‘Let me drive,’ and she fancies herself a qualifying race car driver,” Moll said with a laugh. “Which caused this old guy to hold onto everything in the car. She said, ‘I brake quickly, so you have to get used to it.’ She was the best.”
Follow this story