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Former Minneapolis Fitness Instructor Killed In Florida

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A weekend killing at a Florida fitness center has claimed the life of a former Minneapolis instructor.

Mario Hortis, 42, was shot and killed along with his manager, Janine Ackerman, by a fellow instructor they had fired earlier on Saturday.

It happened at the Equinox Fitness Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

"Just shocking, really shocking," said Carolyn Manion-Gruesner. She couldn't believe the news coming out of Florida this past weekend.

She was speaking of her former fitness instructor at The Firm in Minneapolis, where Hortis was employed until 2005 when he moved to Miami.

"He (Hortis) was thoughtful and took the time to get to know everybody, his clients and all who took his class. He was an incredible instructor," Manion-Gruesner said.

Mario Hortis was fitness manager at Equinox in Coral Gables, Fla. On Saturday, he and the fitness center's manager terminated instructor Abeku Wilson, who later returned with a pistol. Wilson then turned the gun on himself.

Witnesses describe a horrifying scene, saying, "He was there just holding the gun, the guy had no chance."

Hortis grew up in St. Cloud and graduated with an economics degree from Saint John's University in 1997. His extremely good looks led Hortis into modeling, but it was clear that his true passion was fitness.

His spin and fitness classes at The Firm were always booked with waiting lists of clients, hoping to get in. Hortis left for Miami in 2005, but never left his friends.

"You don't think it's going to affect you personally, and now we've all been touched by this, unfortunately, by gun violence," Manion-Gruesner said.

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