MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 64-year-old Maplewood man is accused of pulling a gun on a gym manager during an argument over members not wearing face masks.
According to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Michael Florhaug faces one felony charge of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon in connection to the Dec. 31, 2020 incident.READ MORE: George Floyd Timeline
Florhaug allegedly went to an LA Fitness location in Maplewood that afternoon to personally monitor if members of the gym were complying with the state’s face mask requirements for gyms. He’s not an active member of the gym, authorities said.
The incident began when Florhaug was speaking to an employee at the front desk in an aggressive and angry manner, due to some gym members not wearing masks, according to the complaint.
A manager then told Florhaug that staff can’t be everywhere to enforce the face mask rules and said Florhaug was “welcome to pay an employee out of his own pocket to enforce the mask rules at the back of the gym”, the complaint said.
Despite being told he could not enter the gym, Florhaug said he was going to walk around the gym and take pictures of gym members. When the manager attempted to stop him, Florhaug pulled the gun and pointed it at the manager. When the manager backed away, Florhaug put the gun back in his sweatshirt pocket, the complaint said.READ MORE: Study Ranks Minnesota As 6th Safest State During Pandemic
Florhaug then walked back up towards the front of the gym. At that moment, the manager tackled Florhaug from behind and disarmed him. The manager then removed the ammunition from the gun. The manager told police he feared Florhaug would shoot members who didn’t have masks on.
A gym member who witnessed the incident said they saw Florhaug point the gun at the manager with a fully extended arm.
Following his arrest, Florhaug told police that he was a member of the gym, but had not worked out during the pandemic. He said he wanted to see how compliant people were with the face mask mandate. He said the manager physically attacked him by pushing him into a wall and getting into his face. He said the manager tackled him from behind as he was trying to leave.
When asked about pointing a gun at the manager, Florhaug dismissed it and said he only flashed the gun. He also acknowledged that monitoring and enforcing mask mandates was not his responsibility, but he said “it was ridiculous that he can’t work out because others refuse to comply with the mandate”, the complaint said.
Florhaug has an active permit to carry a firearm. Officers recovered his handgun, which was described in the complaint as a Sig Sauer 9mm handgun.MORE NEWS: Appeals Court: Judge Erred In Not Reinstating 3rd-Degree Murder Charge Against Derek Chauvin
If convicted, Florhaug could face up to seven years in prison and/or a $14,000 fine.
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